200th anniversary celebrations for coastguard to take place in Scotland

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Staff and volunteers, past and present, for HM Coastguard will be celebrating 200 years of service this week in Scotland (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Archive)
Staff and volunteers, past and present, for HM Coastguard will be celebrating 200 years of service this week in Scotland (Andrew Matthews/PA) (PA Archive)

Celebrations to mark the Her Majesty’s Coastguard’s 200 years of service will take place in Scotland this week.

Established on January 15 1822 originally to combat smuggling, HM Coastguard has in the following two centuries expanded to its current form, which involves around 3,500 volunteers in 310 teams across the UK, which are supported by 10 search and rescue helicopters.

Staff and volunteers, past and present, are joining together in the Scottish Hebrides to mark their life-saving work by keeping people safe in some of the most remote locations in the UK.

The Hebrides are made up of an archipelago of islands with a population that the coastguard has been serving since the 19th century.

This is a true opportunity to celebrate everyone that has been a part of making the service what it is, from the past to the present and into the future

Divisional commander for the Hebrides Bill Speirs

The celebrations will begin with two smaller events – one in Lochaber, in the West of the Scottish Highlands, on June 13 and one on the isle of Skye on Tuesday.

The main, larger celebration will take place in Stornoway, Lewis, on Friday, at the Stornoway Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).

A virtual tour will take place which will see each of the 10 search and rescues sites around the UK “take a moment” to celebrate two hundred years of their local communities supporting – and working or volunteering for – HM Coastguard.

Officers of HM Coastguard and the RNLI will attend the celebratory day, alongside police, the fire service, ambulance service and local dignitaries.

HM Coastguard divisional commander for the Hebrides Bill Speirs said: “We are so proud to be part of an organisation whose mission it is to search and rescue – we are all proud to work with each other and I think I can speak for us all to say that we are aware of the weight of history and the pride that brings.

“HM Coastguard has rescued countless lives in two hundred years, and everyone we bring home adds to that wonderful tally further.

“This is a true opportunity to celebrate everyone that has been a part of making the service what it is, from the past to the present and into the future.

“I hope everyone can take a moment to appreciate their own achievements and take pride in our service.”

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