A VIRTUAL version of Dunbar RNLI’s annual lifeboat day, which last year raised £15,000 for the charity, gets under way tomorrow (Saturday).

Dunbar Lifeboat Day is a firm fixture in the town’s calendar and a vital fundraiser for the lifesaving crew.

However, the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the event, which dates back to the 1800s.

Fortunately, Dunbar’s RNLI volunteers have stepped up to ensure that the popular event does not pass unmarked.

A series of virtual activities are being planned from Saturday through to August 15, when the Lifeboat Queen will be crowned.

Veronica Davies, Dunbar RNLI fundraising committee chair, hoped that the community would enjoy the on-screen activities and raise funds to help save lives at sea.

She said: “I know how special lifeboat day and the traditions behind it are to the community and that’s why we couldn’t let a year go by without marking it in some way.

“We have organised a ‘Virtual Lifeboat Fete’, which we hope captures the public’s imagination.

“Dunbar has crowned a Lifeboat Queen every year since 1963 and we wanted to continue that tradition.

“Our supporters have always amazed us with their response to our appeals in the past and, while we realise it’s a difficult time for many people, we hope they will amaze us once more.”

Two weeks of fun-filled activities will launch on Saturday, with painting, photography, baking, welly-decorating and picture caption competitions, as well as a pet show, a ‘pick a lifeboat station’ game and quiz.

All events will be organised online, with participants able to submit entries via their phones, tablets or computers.

In addition, walkers and fun-runners are encouraged to join in the ‘Skateraw Dash’, a sponsored run or walk challenge for runners of all ages and capabilities that commemorates the days more than 100 years ago when the lifeboat crew, due to tide or bad weather, had to push the boat five miles from Dunbar to Skateraw to launch.

The fete is Dunbar RNLI’s biggest annual fundraiser and last year the event raised a sizeable total of £15,000.

Traditionally, thousands turn out for the parade along High Street before heading to the harbour for an afternoon of music, fun activities, competitions and the Lifeboat Queen’s crowning ceremony.

Mark Lees, Dunbar Lifeboat Station chairman, was glad to see the event going ahead, albeit in a different form.

He said: “At first glance, not having lifeboat day feels a bit of a travesty, especially given all the tradition of the lifeboat in Dunbar and the way that we use this as not only a way of raising funds but our key interaction with our local community.

“In these difficult times, we have to look past that and make sure that the safety of our community, our fundraisers and our crew must come first, so there really was no way we could run the fete in our traditional way that kept everyone absolutely safe.

“It really is great, however, to be able to run the fete ‘virtually’, allowing our team to engage and interact with our community and maintain the tradition of lifeboat day, with a Lifeboat Queen, and ensure that the tradition of the station and community coming together can in some way be maintained.

“That has been so important to all our crew and our fundraisers and I think so important to the ongoing history of our station.

“There are loads of great, safe and socially distanced events to get involved in, so I would just encourage everyone to have a go at something to have some fun and support your lifeboat station.”