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The generosity of Oban folk shows no signs of slowing as RNLI volunteers gathered at the North Pier on Saturday to keep the donations rolling in for the town lifeboat.
The day kicked off with an ‘incredibly generous’ donation of £100 in cash, said delighted Phil Hamerton, chairman of Oban Lifeboat fundraising group, who joined other volunteers for the day to man its distinctive pop-up shop.
At the bright marquee, residents and visitors continued to make a beeline to drop coins in the collection box or snap up a range of quality merchandise and souvenirs with Christmas now just eight weeks away.
Its newly-launched Christmas cards proved a big hit, said Mr Hamerton, and they remain on sale at McCaig’s Warehouse and will be available at the next RNLI event in town on October 31.
Mr Hamerton said as well as being an opportunity for people to return Betty’s Pots, the event on Saturday was a chance to show the lifeboat service was visible and to remind the coastal community of its need.
Mr Hamerton said: ‘For an organisation which is entirely dependent on voluntary contributions genuinely every penny is priceless.’
Yet the year 2020 looks set to prove a lean one for charities UK-wide with fundraising events cancelled, opportunities to donate curtailed and people not tending to shop with loose change in the way they used to before the pandemic.
Donations in Oban remained ‘steady,’ he said, and despite the autumnal sunshine, there was noticeably fewer people in town.
Mr Hamerton said: ‘I think people are subdued and a little bit tentative and numbers in town are not what they were a couple of weeks ago.’
Also on hand was secretary Alison Rennie and volunteer Jenny McEvoy, who clocked up 15 years volunteering in York and 20 years in Oban.
They were joined by volunteers Anne Young, as well as Mike Robertson, chairman of the local management group and a crew member on Oban’s very first lifeboat – an 18ft McLachlan – which went into service in May 1972.
Mr Robertson, a senior solicitor by trade and lifelong sailor, was 27 when he first joined.
He said: ‘The arrival of the lifeboat followed a terrible tragedy with four people drowned at the Falls of Lora and it triggered a major push to bring a lifeboat to Oban, so when that first boat arrived it was exciting times.
‘In 2022 we will be celebrating our 50th anniversary, so we are starting to think about that already. Having a lifeboat is such an important part of any maritime community.’
Other fundraisers in the pipeline include Oban Lifeboat Seafood Recipe book – with a collection of recipes submitted by the public and judged by experts from local restaurants. A digital version of the book is expected at the end of November.
In order to be in with a chance to feature, people can submit a donation online and a photograph of their prepared dish and recipe.
To take part visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oban-rnli-fundraising