South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade is supporting the South Tyneside Heritage Lottery initiative (June 14th & 15th) which is aiming to encourage more local groups and organisations to apply for National Lottery grants.
The Brigade was successful in obtaining a £50,500 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s “Our Heritage” category to support a year -long celebration of its 150th Anniversary during 2016. The Brigade’s Always Ready for 150 Years project was an outstanding success and it was selected by HLF as a national exemplar.

Now the Brigade is holding a special Open Day Wednesday 14th June (10.00 am-4.00 pm) at is historic Watch House on the South Pier, South Shields as part of a special Heritage Trail featuring locations and organisations around South Tyneside which were awarded HLF funding. South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade has also been invited to take part on South Tyneside HLF Funding Festival on Thursday 15th June at The Word, South Shields, to share project ideas with past applicants and to offer knowledge and advice to local groups to encourage them to make applications.
Tom Fennelly, Honorary Secretary of the Volunteer Life Brigade, said: “We are delighted to support this Heritage Lottery Fund initiative to promote what funds are available to help local groups and organisations and to encourage them to submit applications for their projects.”
“My simple message will be that people should not be daunted by the application process which is necessarily very thorough. There are excellent guidelines available and officers at both the national and regional headquarters of the Heritage Lottery Fund are very accessible and ready to help at every stage.”

The Volunteer Life Brigade provides a 24-hour coastal search and rescue service from the Watch House and maintains the buildings as a local museum and visitor attractions dedicated to the celebration of its lifesaving role since its formation in 1866. Working in partnership with Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums and South Tyneside Council, the Brigade’s displays were improved, and its collections were digitised and made available online. A friends group was set up to encourage new volunteers and to support a range of community events including demonstrations, open days, talks and visits and a major exhibition at South Shields Museum.  As well as attracting new recruits the project has developed the skills of existing and new volunteers to ensure the Brigade remains a key part of the coast rescue story.

Tom Fennelly added: “The HLF award allowed us to celebrate this landmark anniversary, make the Brigade even more resilient and secure a sustainable future. The outcomes of the project exceeded all expectations and we had record numbers of visitors to the Watch House and the Museum exhibition. Overall the profile of the Brigade was greatly enhanced and many more people are now aware to the Brigade’s past and present roles”.
Following the success of the 150th Anniversary celebrations it was announced earlier this year that South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade was to receive the Freedom of the Borough of South Tyneside. This prestigious honour was formally bestowed on the Brigade at a special ceremony last month (May 11th)