The RNLI’s annual open day in Portree last Saturday attracted a strong turnout, despite challenging weather conditions, and managed to raise over £11,000 for the charity.
The event, which was held at the town’s pier, created a gala-day atmosphere with a barbeque, raffle, silent auction, face painting and various stalls – including the crowd-favourite sponge throw, manned by the bravest volunteers.
Also in attendance and welcoming visits were the emergency service vehicles from RNLI Portree, Skye Mountain Rescue, Skye Coastguard, Portree Fire Brigade and the Scottish Ambulance Service.
The charity relies solely on donations to maintain the emergency service it provides.
“The open day gives the young people a chance to see the emergency services up close but without being frightened of them – it’s a really good tool for us,” David Beaton, Chairman of the Fundraisers Committee of RNLI Portree, told the Free Press before sharing his initial weather worries.
“The day was a great success, but I wasn’t sure it would be at 8.30am on the Saturday morning when we were battling with the wind to try and get gazebos up!
“It was testing times on Saturday morning. We were worried turnout would be lower than usual as it was a shocker of a day but the Isle of Skye Pipe Band did a great job, as usual, of bringing the crowds down meaning that tourists as well as locals were down the pier supporting our work.”
David praised the generosity of the island communities of Skye and Raasay, who didn’t let the weather stop them from supporting the lifeboat team.
He added: “The people of Skye and Raasay have both been amazing. We go over to Raasay the week before the open day and this time it was another horrific night for weather, but 43 people turned out and filled the boat with auction prizes, gifts and donations which was superb.”
The open day in Portree and the trip to Raasay raised over £11,000 and David told us this was particularly pleasing considering the current cost of living crisis.
He said: “It’s a fantastic amount to have raised, we can’t do what we do without the generosity of local people and businesses. Year after year, they commit to us.
“Times are hard for everybody and you’re almost reluctant to ask because we know things are difficult, but our communities always come through.
“We are so grateful to everybody who came along and who support us. We are the last emergency service that doesn’t rely on government support – we are totally reliant on donations – but being such a strong island community, we pull together when it’s needed.”
For more information, or to find out how to donate or support the RNLI follow their social media channels by searching Lifeboat Fundraisers (Skye and Raasay).
Article by DANIEL CULLEN