Orkney jewellery designer’s collection helps Lifeboat Museum fundraising

Orkney jewellery designer Zoe Davidson has been raising funds to help with the refurbishment of an island lifeboat museum through sales of a limited-edition collection of her work.

Drop wire earrings from the Longhope Lifeboat collection
Drop wire earrings from the Longhope Lifeboat collection

Stromness-based Zoe created the special silver Longhope collection after learning that the Longhope Lifeboat Museum, on the Orkney island of Hoy, was launching a fundraising drive.

The museum – housed in a former lifeboat shed - was created in 2000 to highlight the bravery of Longhope RNLI lifeboat volunteers over the decades, displaying many important artefacts and records.

Most poignantly, the museum pays tribute to the eight-man strong crew of the Longhope lifeboat T.G.B., all tragically lost after their vessel capsized in mountainous seas while attending a ship in distress in the Pentland Firth, in March 1969.

Zoe, a keen supporter of the RNLI, has raised funds for the charity before, donating a percentage of sales from her Saltaire collection to her local lifeboat station in Stromness.

“When I learned that the Longhope Lifeboat Museum was seeking to raise £30,000 to refurbish their building, and mark the 50th anniversary of the terrible loss of the T.G.B. crew, I wondered if I might be able to help in some small way,” said 28-year-old Zoe. “I approached the museum’s committee and got their approval to create the Longhope collection of silver earrings, pendants, necklets, bracelets, tie-bars and cufflinks, donating 10-per-cent of sales to the fundraising cause.”

Zoe’s collection was based around silver miniatures of an older Longhope lifeboat, the Thomas McCunn, which saved over 300 lives during its service between 1932 and 1962.The vessel is now displayed within the museum.

“Living in an island community, I draw a lot of inspiration for my collections from the ocean, which is both beautiful and potentially very dangerous too,” added Zoe. “I often watch our local lifeboat head out to sea in all weathers and really wanted to do something to highlight the bravery of those men and women, and ensure that the memories of those volunteers who were lost live on.”

Zoe recently had the pleasure of visiting the museum, meeting the lifeboat crew and presenting a cheque for over £489.00 from the sales of her Longhope collection.

Zoe (left, holding cheque) pictured with members of the RNLI Longhope Lifeboat crew and museum trustees
Zoe (left, holding cheque) pictured with members of the RNLI Longhope Lifeboat crew and museum trustees

Mary Harris, trustee and current guide at the museum, said: "The funds raised and donated by Zoe will go towards the conservation and restoration of the Longhope Lifeboat Museum, our vintage lifeboat, the Thomas McCunn, and all the associated cultural heritage. We would like to thank Zoe for her support and appreciate her involvement in keeping our museum open and our lifeboats’ history and precious memories alive and safe."

Some items within the Longhope collection are still available to buy on Zoe’s website.