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Harbour-watchers might have thought they were seeing double yesterday evening (Wednesday 21 February), as the RNLB Tom Sanderson’s nearest lifeboat relative came for a sleepover in Stornoway harbour.

The arrival of RNLI 17-17 Fraser Flyer, part of the RNLI relief fleet, meant a double dose of Severn Class lifeboats, the visitor side-by-side with our own home lifeboat, RNLI 17-18 Tom Sanderson.

The identical reflections of the two vessels in Stornoway harbour was snapped by long-time RNLI supporter Jane Maciver, while she clocked up her walking miles raising funds for RNLI Stornoway.

And former lifeboat crew member John J ‘Boolie’ Maclennan MBE was up early enough this morning to catch another view of the Fraser Flyer as she set out north to Scrabster, where she’s expected later today.

The number of eyes on lifeboat activity in Stornoway shows just how integral the RNLI is to the life of the island, with any moves by the distinctive orange vessels attracting attention.

The whole RNLI family in Stornoway is pulling together to mark the establishment of the national lifesaving service, which celebrates its bicentenary next week (Monday 4 March).

Also covering the miles for the RNLI in Stornoway are nine-year-old twins Orlaith and Joel Mackinnon, whose dad David joined the lifeboat crew 30 years ago, on his 17th birthday, 3 March 1994.

Joel and Orlaith have done the maths and worked out that 200 years of the RNLI, plus 30 years of their dad’s service, adds up to 230 miles, which they plan to cover by next Monday – walking, running, cycling or swimming.

They’re doing brilliantly, not only smashing through the miles but smashing through their £230 target on their JustGiving page here.

Among bicentenary events are a planned exhibition and a public lecture last month, both hosted by Stornoway Historical Society.

At the lecture (now available to watch here) John J MacLennan MBE explained how the RNLI has been in Stornoway since 1887, when Stornoway’s first lifeboat, an oar-propelled wooden boat called the Isabella, was established, marking the foundation of Stornoway Lifeboat Station.

The pictures show RNLI lifeboats 17-17 and 17-18 berthed side-by-side in Stornoway harbour last night (Jane Maciver), the Fraser Flyer leaving port this morning (John J Maclennan) and twin fundraisers Orlaith and Joel Mackinnon (Donna Mackinnon).