The dark clouds which have been circling above Arbroath’s crisis-hit lifeboat station appear to be lifting.
The town’s lifeboat shed has been in a state of unrest since several crew members were suspended and the all-weather lifeboat was grounded as a result of a high-level RNLI probe into a drunken prank.
The crew put on a show of unity at the shed on Tuesday evening after the tensions of previous months as it emerged the post of the lifeboat’s new leader has now been advertised — four months after long-serving coxswain Tommy Yule was permanently stood down for his role in the controversy.
It is understood the all-weather lifeboat will also be returning to active service within weeks following the conclusion of the internal RNLI investigation.
The RNLI said the station was now “moving in a positive direction” after “some difficult months”.
The full-time post — available from March — will combine the roles previously held by Mr Yule and lifeboat mechanic Ron Churchill who retired last year.
Mr Yule was sacked as a result of the investigation into an incident involving a Dutch lifeboat crew in which a drunken prank called a three-man lift took place, which involves the victim being pinned down as he gets a backside shoved in his face.
The top-level inquiry also led to other forced or voluntary departures.
Henry Weaver from the RNLI said: “We had begun the process of recruiting for this role before the investigation, following the retirement of Ron Churchill, but it was put on hold until we had an outcome from the investigation.
“Now that the station is moving in a positive direction and we’re pleased to be recruiting for a full-time coxswain/mechanic.
“We have rewritten the job description and have combined the roles which is commonplace at other stations in the UK and reflects the changing role of the RNLI within the local community.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for someone to take up a vital role within the community and the RNLI.
“We’ve always had a majority of crew who have behaved admirably and things are moving in the right direction after some difficult months.
“We can’t give a firm date for getting the all-weather lifeboat, Inchcape, back on service, but it’s fair to say it will be sooner rather than later.”
The RNLI won’t be m
aking details of the investigation public as they are bound by its duty to respect the confidentiality of individuals who were involved in the investigation.
The £30,000 a year post will be split between “ensuring the Mersey Class lifeboat and her equipment work to the highest order and training and assessing volunteer crewmembers to the RNLI’s competence standards”.
The RNLI said the successful candidate will need to demonstrate leadership qualities and the ability to motivate and maximise people’s potential.
In addition to having the skills needed for the role, the RNLI said it was also looking for applicants that were “trustworthy, courageous, selfless, and dependable”.
Arbroath East and Lunan Conservative councillor Derek Wann said: “I welcome the news that things look as though they are getting back to normal for the Arbroath Lifeboat station.
“The last few months have been a bit worrying for the service in our town.
“I’m sure the people of Arbroath and surrounding area feel the same.”