Fleetwood has a new addition to its marine community after a voluntary maritime group brought its official vessel into the port this week and began recruiting new members.
The Maritime Voluntary Service (MVS) has never operated from the town before but has been planning to set up in Fleetwood for the last 12 months.
A recognised national maritime training organisation, the MVS is a registered charity founded in 1994 which has more than 25 units around the country.
The Warrington-based organisation provides seamanship training in chartwork, navigation and communications to nationally and internationally recognised standards.
The group takes youth group, like Scouts, out to sea to teach them seamanship and water safety skills – but some senior MVS members also combine this with expertise in dealing with environmental emergencies such as oil spills or even dealing with stranded marine life.
On Monday the group’s 34ft Nelson motor launch, Curlew, was installed in Fleetwood’s marina although it will not be brought into active operation until early next year.
The Fleetwood MVS unit currently has an officer and three other voluntary members, but is looking to expand in the months ahead and is hoping for a 12-strong membership.
Chris Todd, national vice chairman of the MVS who is based in the port of Manchester, said: “The unit in Fleetwood is the only North West group outside Manchester. We saw Fleetwood as the perfect place to operate from and provide a service to the community.
“We do not do the same work as the RNLI or Coastguard and are a very different group, but we have introduced ourselves and would be pleased to liaise with them and offer any sort of help if needed.”
MVS members in the North of England submitted a business plan to the organisation’s national council and when the Curlew became surplus to the South West Region, members in the North made a bid to bring it to the North.
The man heading the unit at Fleetwood is Tony Coleman, an ex-Lake Windermere warden who lives in Cleveleys.
He said: “While the MVS now has a great boat at Fleetwood, we do need a shore based home, where we can have our regular meetings and store equipment. We also have a 5 metre Rigid Raider boat waiting to come to the unit and need somewhere to store her too.
“We thank Associated British ports for allowing us a berth for Curlew in Fleetwood.”
Another member is Fleetwood man Graeme Hall, a former Royal Navy engineer who said: “I am looking at setting up a winter work schedule to get the vessel into tip top shape for next year.
“It will not take to long to have her ready to start working with young and old alike.”
The Fleetwood Unit plans to work along side other organisations to help groups such as Scouts or merchant or Royal Navy veterans to have the chance to get afloat.
Anyone interested in becoming a member of the team or who knows a suitable base can contact Tony on firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 07786020753.
The group also has its own Facebook page.