About Us


We are a dedicated team of volunteers whose purpose was to restore and maintain the 100 year old vessel to her former glory, and use her for fundraising and P.R. events up and down the country.  Each man played his own part in this epic story of re-kindling the past, and the details of each helper are below.

 The Team currently consists of the following :-

Dave Charlton  ( on right) :-


Dave, a keen lifeboat enthusiast, spotted the “William Riley of Birmingham and Leamington” for sale on e-bay in 1905.

Dave contacted the Whitby Lifeboat Museum Curator to see if there was any interest in the boat as the Riley was stationed at Whitby from 1909 to 1931.

The museum was interested, but the Curator pointed out that the RNLI could not use their funds for any restoration project.

However the Curator, Pete Thomson, was extremely keen to see the old lifeboat and asked Dave to keep him informed.

Dave subsequently bought the boat and, subject to a team being formed in Whitby to restore her, he offered to donate it to the town.

The “Whitby Historic lifeboat Trust”, a separate charity was then formed, and a few volunteers were enrolled.

When he visited Barnstaple with his wife Sarah, he repaired the holes in the hull prior to her re-floating for the trip home.

Dave is also a partner in a restoration firm in Haltwhistle  that fitted out the decking and seats before the final paint-up. He was responsible for the trust obtaining a lottery grant for the project, and still plays an important role in the life of the Riley as treasurer and Trustee. Dave also accompanies the boat on some events where possible, as rower and Bowman.


PeteThomson :-


Coxswain Pete has been Honorary Curator of the RNLI Whitby Lifeboat Museum since 1985.

He also served on the Whitby Lifeboats from 1966 when he volunteered as an Inshore Lifeboat crew member.

Pete was appointed full-time station Mechanic in 1967, and was promoted to Coxswain/Mechanic in 1976 where he served until his retirement in 1993.

Because of his duties as museum Curator, Pete immediately responded to Dave’s information about the Riley, and proceeded to gather up a few local friends who could be interested in the restoration project.

When the trust was formed, Pete was elected Chairman, and he then set off with the recovery party to Barnstaple to try to rescue the wreck.

He also took the job of project manager and designed and built the rolling rig and site for the restoration to begin.

Despite some hiccoughs with the odd Trustee when he stood down as Chairman, Pete steered the re-building to the end of the three year project in 2008, and because of his years of experience on the Lifeboats in Whitby, he became the Coxswain of the Riley for major events and remains in the post to this day.


Tim Hicking :-

Tim was one of the first to be asked to join the Trustees because of his connection with the RNLI volunteer fundraisers in Whitby, and also working with Pete in the Museum. He has a long association with Whitby, especially the fishing fraternity, and was keen to get involved with the Riley restoration.

Tim was one of the four who travelled to Barnstaple to recover the Riley, and has worked tirelessly on the project. He spent many hours cleaning out the old stables for the workshop and assisted with most of the restoration of the boat. Tim now takes an oar on most of our fundraising events.



Dave Johnson :-

Dave is the current treasurer for the RNLI Whitby Branch and has been involved as a trustee from the very beginning. He has used his knowledge of working with Epoxy resin and fibreglass to help restore a large part of the Riley’s hull.

Dave accompanies the Riley on many occasions as 2nd Cox or bowman, occasionally taking an oar.


Graham Chaddock ( on right)  :-


Graham joined the Riley team shortly after the restoration was complete, and was a great help to Pete in setting up the first sponsored row, the Tyne to Whitby three day sea trip. A lot of research went into the setting up of the event, and Graham was a great driving force to get this event off the ground.

Also the famous row of the Caledonian canal from Corpach to Inverness (including Loch Ness- see events),  was inspired and organised by Graham.

As part of the fundraising group the “Ales Angels”, Graham’s organising skills and fundraising was previously demonstrated by taking part in the epic “Loch Ness Pedalo” event in 2007.

He is one of our “stroke” oarsmen and has also now taken over as secretary of the Team, and is currently organising most of our coming events.


Other members of the team are as follows :-

Roger Turton 

Jim ?

Barry Brown

Alan Brown

Derek Brown

Darren Archibald

Liam ?

Dave Pierson

Information on these members will be updated on this website shortly.