South Shields life-saving charity granted Freedom of the Borough

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade has been awarded the Freedom of the Borough

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade has been awarded the Freedom of the Borough

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A life-saving charity will be handed the Freedom of the Borough after a unanimous vote by councillors.

For 150 years South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade has been saving lives along the town’s coastline.
Now, the dedication and valiant efforts of its volunteers have been recognised by councillors.
In an extraordinary meeting of the full council, a motion was put forward by Coun Fay Cunningham and seconded by Coun Alan Kerr.
Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Alan Smith, said: “The selfless individuals who have served in the brigade are a credit to South Tyneside, and I am delighted that the organisation is to receive for Freedom of the Borough – the highest honour to be bestowed on any individual or organisation.
“Throughout its long and unbroken record of life-saving service, South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade is credited with having saved over 600 lives from shipwreck. It really has made a huge difference to the lives of many people.”
The rare honour has only been awarded ten times since 1981.
The charity, which provides a 24-hour coastal search and rescue back-up in conjunction with HM Coastguard, now joins The Rt Hon Lord Don Dixon PCDL, The Citizens of Wuppertal and 205 (3rd Durham Voluntary Artillery) Battery Royal Artillery (volunteers) in receiving this prestigious award.
Mr Tom Fennelly, long- serving Honorary Secretary of the South Shields Volunteer Brigade said: “It is with immense pride in the achievements and work of the brigade since its formation in 1866 and right up to the present day that officers and members are greatly honoured to have been nominated for the award of the Freedom of the Borough of South Tyneside.”
The charity which was officially formed on January 30, 1866, was the first organisation in the world to use the breeches buoy to save lives from a shipwreck.
A formal ceremony will take place later in the year.