The first meeting of all those interested in the formation of a Ladies’ Lifeboat Guild in Inverbervie and District was presided over by Viscountess Arbuthnott and took place in the Masonic Hall, Inverbervie on the afternoon of February 21, 1949 and on Wednesday, 13 July 2011 the Guild celebrated its 60th Anniversary in the Lifeboat House, Johnshaven Harbour.
Membership of the guild was open to all women willing to work for the Lifeboat Service on a minimum payment of 2/6. Viscountess Arbuthnott was elected President, Mrs Mulligan, Inverbervie Honorary Secretary, Mr D.C. Lyall Honorary Treasurer and all other ladies present became members of the committee. Importantly it was agreed that each area should have its own committee and office-bearers and report to the General Committee when it met. Arrangements were made to begin fund-raising and in its first year the total drawings amounted to £289.13.10.
As the 60 invited guests arrived on Wednesday night, they were greeted by Ali Sanger, a young piper from Lathallan School and, in delivering the welcome to the Lifeboat House, Guild President, Jilly Arbuthnott, said that this time the occasion was not one for fund-raising but to celebrate the dedication of the many supporters in this corner of Scotland who have raised £250,000 for the RNLI over the past 60 years and added how important it was to encourage young people to become involved in the work of the movement.
The celebratory cake was cut by one of the oldest active volunteers in Scotland, Margaret Ritchie, and the toasts were proposed by another veteran volunteer, Jean Cook.
Don Marr, Vice-Chairperson of the Benholm and Johnshaven Heritage Society paid tribute to those men of the area who, as RNLI crew members, went to sea in an open lifeboat pulled by oar and sail and to the men of the Life Brigades who also went to the aid of their fellow men and to those who made the supreme sacrifice. Johnshaven Brownies Erin Beedie and Laura Porter read William Douglas-Home’s poem, “The Lifeboatmen” and Carol Kinghorn, Lord Lieutenant of Kincardineshire, unveiled a memorial plaque erected to the loyal service given by the men of Johnshaven to the Lifeboat and the Life Brigade. The Lord Lieutenant later unveiled the RNLI Fundraising Award.
Karen Smith, RNLI Scottish Council Member, presented Long Service Awards to Inverbervie Guild members Morag Smith and Christeen Robertson, Benholm and Johnshaven members Freda Dundas, Geraldine McGuiness and Elizabeth Watson and, in absentia, to Aartjie Gray of the Inverbervie Guild.
A truly memorable occasion drew to a conclusion with Jilly Arbuthnott thanking those who had attended the Celebration and the very many individuals and organisations particularly the Secretary, Geraldine McGuiness, who had made it possible and Master of Ceremonies, Tony Archer, directing the guests to the buffet.