Ghost of Dunkirk comes home

Lifeboat 5 SUS-160629-071228001
Lifeboat 5 SUS-160629-071228001

An historic Hastings lifeboat that was used to save troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in World War 2 is coming back home this weekend.

The Cyril and Lilian Bishop has been hidden away in a French boatyard but is now being restored by Old Town stalwarts Dee Day White and Tush Hamilton and is due to arrive in Hastings on Friday July 1.

Lifeboat 4 SUS-160629-071213001

Lifeboat 4 SUS-160629-071213001

The lifeboat was active off the coast of Hastings in the 1930’s, saving dozens of lives, before being requisitioned for the Dunkirk evacuations, where she earned her nickname by appearing like a ghost through the mist.

Dee Day explained: “Tush and I have never been the lords of our projects - it’s the people of Hastings who are the true heroes.

“This is happening after nine months of phone calls and many miles of travelling to Mr Simon Evans’ boatyard in France.

Simon is a professional boat builder who just happens to collect lifeboats, 23 in all – what a commitment to the RNLI and history.

Lifeboat 3 SUS-160629-071200001

Lifeboat 3 SUS-160629-071200001

“‘No’ said Simon, ‘I don’t want to sell that boat, she was so important to the Dunkirk evacuation’. And he kept on saying that, but we wore away his resistance and in the end he said ‘She won’t be cheap, I have spent years working on her’,

“Just give us a figure please Simon, I said.

”Another visit to France and a talk around the boardroom table (in the Boatyard kitchen) Tush like a dog with a bone looking at this boat , me pointing out that we have no money, it must be raise from the people of Hastings.

“After numerous cups of coffee, a deposit was paid, paperwork completed and the Ghost of Dunkirk was coming home.

Lifeboat 2 SUS-160629-071146001

Lifeboat 2 SUS-160629-071146001

“Our work was done in France, it now starts in Hastings.

“The purchase of the Cyril and Lilian Bishop was financed entirely by Skinners Sheds which is wonderful.

“Now we need to cover the £1,500 transport cost (lorry and ferry crossing) from the French boatyard to Hastings RNLI house.

“Then restoration work, started by Simon Evans, but needing to be completed, can continue.

Lifeboat 1 SUS-160629-071133001

Lifeboat 1 SUS-160629-071133001

But Tush and I have confidence in you, the people of Hastings, to help in any way you can.

Our volunteers will be needed again. We are working on a figure of around £15,000 to put her in a new dock in the Bourne, given to us by Hastings Borough Council, opposite the Stables Theatre. T

“This figure should give us a display in Hastings Old Town which cannot be seen anywhere else in England.

“The ‘Ghost of Dunkirk’ will then become a reality and not just an apparition with help from the people of Hastings.

How you can help with the project:

Cheques can be made payable to ‘The Macbean & Bishop Trust” and sent to the treasurer at 4, All Saints Crescent, Hastings TN35 5PD or paid in at any Santander Bank or through internet banking to Sort Code 090128, A/c 49444310

Dee Day and Tush will also accept any donations and local businesses will be visited for sponsorship, to be included on their sponsorship boards. Look out for the collecting boxes in Old Town pubs.

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