A POTENTIAL life-saving grant of £77,000 has been awarded to an independent lifeboat charity.

Maryport Inshore Rescue was given this share of £1million government funding to boost resources.

Station officer Mike Messenger said Maryport’s share will allow them to buy a new lifeboat, enabling them to provide closer inshore operations across a greater area of coastline in more varied conditions, as well as new crew equipment including dry suits and radios.

“We are buying a D-class boat. It is like going from a Mini to a Rolls Royce,” he said.

The present lifeboat, invaluable in the major floods of the past few years, was limited in what it could do in shallow water.

“We turn out whenever we are called and do whatever we can. The new boat, however, will give us so much more scope and could potentially help us to save lives in the future.”

Mr Messenger said the present boat will be kept for use where appropriate, such as in future floods.

“Our crew has been on standby throughout the last two storms. We weren’t called out because West Cumbria was not badly affected this time. We were very involved in the two floods that hit Workington and Cockermouth especially and the present boat was ideal in those circumstances.”

He said the rest of the £77,000 would be used for dry suits and VHS radios.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Our rescue boat teams carry out vital work to keep our rivers, lakes and inshore areas safe. These inspirational charities and their dedicated volunteers save lives every day, and this additional funding will ensure that they have the craft, equipment, and resources to provide these services year-round.”

While the funding is a huge boost for Maryport Rescue, which depends solely on donations to keep it running, fundraising will continue. Friday February 28 is Go Orange Day when independent lifeboats throughout the country urge people to wear orange to highlight the work of the service. An event will also be held in Maryport Navy Club.