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Lifeboat anniversaries remembered

25 October 09 11:27 GMT

Two major events in Wales' maritime history have been commemorated.

The anniversary of a shipwreck 150 years ago which claimed 479 lives has been marked in Moelfre, Anglesey.

A tribute was also paid to Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers who carried out a rescue 100 years later almost to the day.

An RNLI crew demonstrated a rescue technique and bronze panels by sculptor Sam Holland was unveiled as part of the commemorations.

A weekend of events marks the anniversary of the shipwreck of the Royal Charter, which happened off Moelfre on October 26, 1859 in a severe storm.

Also remembered was the rescue of a ship, the Hindlea, on 27 October, 1959, in an operation the RNLI regards as one of its finest.

The lifeboat will be launched and the crew will demonstrate a 'breaches buoy' - the operation that saved 40 Royal Charter passengers

RNLI operations director Michael Vlasto also unveiled Mr Holland's artwork outside Moelfre Seawatch Centre and further events, such as theatre performances, guided walks and concerts were taking place in the village.

The Royal Charter was returning home to Liverpool to Australia and on the day it was wrecked, enormous waves pounding the shore made it impossible for the RNLI crew to launch a lifeboat.

The ship struck the rocks 50 yards from the shore and broke into two sections.

Maltese seaman Joseph Rogers swam from the Royal Charter through massive waves and floating wreckage to bring a line ashore to enable a breaches buoy to be rigged.

He was awarded a gold medal by the RNLI for his efforts to save 40 passengers and crew of the 2,700 tonne steamship.

Moelfre's RNLI lifeboat operations manager Rod Pace said: "The Royal Charter disaster was the worst shipwreck in Welsh maritime history and something which is talked about with poignancy today, especially as the vessel was so close to home when she was wrecked.

"The replication of the breaches buoy will give the public a chance to see how rescue efforts were mounted."

The rescue of the Hindlea 100 years and a day later also earned Moelfre RNLI Coxswain Richard (Dic) Evans a gold medal for outstanding seamanship.

A bronze statue of the celebrated coxswain nowstands overlooking the sea near the lifeboat station.

The Hindlea, a 506 tonne coaster, was dragging her anchor two miles north of Moelfre in heavy seas and hurricane force gales gusting up to 104 mph when Dic Evans and his crew launched their operation.

Mr Pace added: "The current RNLI crew are very proud of rescues such as this that makes up Moelfre's proud maritime history.

"Although over the weekend we will be looking at how much things have inevitably changed in the last 50 years, one thing which has remained is the unwavering commitment and courage of RNLI volunteers who will to this day take to sea in any weather to save lives."

Mr Holland's artwork, depicting the Royal Charter rescue, was unveiled, followed by the breaches buoy demonstration.

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