Oban Lifeboat benefits from five pence fundraiser

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‘We urgently need everyone’s support for Oban lifeboat’ was the message this weekend from the Oban Fundraising Branch for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

At the North Pier on Saturday and Sunday, volunteers took in dozens of ‘Betty’s Pots’ – the small and not so small jars filled with five pence pieces and sometimes notes which have been out in the community.

Between April 2019 and March 2020, they helped bring in £2,000 towards the running of Oban’s ‘Mora Edith MacDonald’ lifeboat, which is on duty night and day to respond to incidents. It launched around 10 times in the last fortnight alone.

Among the volunteers taking in collections were Oban FM presenter Jackie Craig and Heather Smith who oversees the large RNLI collection buckets which in 2019 brought in £11,000.

Also lending a hand was loyal RNLI supporter Peigi Robertson who is due to be recognised by the RNLI for her 50 years of continuous fundraising service which started well before Oban got its first lifeboat in 1972.

Phil Hamerton, chairman of the Oban fundraising branch, thanked all those who had been involved and said the collection weekend had been a ‘stunning success’.

‘The appeal is ongoing,’ said Mr Hamerton. ‘It relies entirely on donations. There is no funding from any government or statutory bodies. We have two full-time lifeboat crew members and around 26 volunteer crew members.’

The preliminary figure for the amount raised was between £500 and £600.

It now plans to hold a monthly pop-up shop & collection point on the North Pier, starting on October 3.

Betty’s Pots has proved such a simple, hassle-free way of contributing that it has spread to other parts of Scotland including a pub in Cambusbarron near Stirling, nearly 90 miles away, said Mr Hamerton.

Martin Laing, deputy editor of The Oban Times, mentioned the initiative at The Foresters Arms, run by manager Kirsty Inglis, and it soon took off.

Pub regular ‘Wales Ally’ or Ally MacFarlane, who served in the Armed Forces and is a keen rugby fan, said people had happily donated their change each time they bought a pint or ‘drinking for charity!’

Ally said: ‘We are landlocked here. We have nothing to do with the sea and nothing to do with Oban but everyone believes in the RNLI and we all think it’s wrong they don’t get supported by the government when other services do.

‘They are an emergency service. The job they do is dangerous and they do it for the safety of others, regardless of the sacrifice to themselves.’

Phil Hamerton, chairman of Oban’s fundraising branch for the RNLI
Peigi Robertson, an RNLI fundraiser for 50 years.
Betty’s Pots reaches the Foresters Arms in Cambusbarron, Stirling. Manager Kirsty Inglis with Phil Hamerton and Wales Ally.