£8.5m Ferrari sale helps fund new RNLI boathouse

The sale of two rare classic Ferrari cars worth £8.5m have helped fund the build of a new lifeboat boathouse in north Wales.

The two Ferraris were left to the RNLI in Richard Colton’s will, and were sold at auction in 2015 for a total of £8.5m, £2.8m of which went towards the funding of Pwllheli’s new boathouse.

Charles Denton, Richard Colton’s godson and executor of the will said: “The donation Richard made through his Will was incredible and we’re delighted that it is being used for such a good purpose. We’re thrilled to be working with the RNLI in keeping Richard’s memory alive. It’s humbling to know that this RNLI boathouse, and Richard’s name, will be here for many, many years to come.”

Businessman Richard Colton [pictured with his wife] passed away in March 2015 and left an extraordinary legacy to the RNLI of two of the world’s rarest Ferraris. Both went to auction, a 1960 red Ferrari 250 GT SWB sold for £6.6m, while a silver 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 sold for £1.93m – making the vehicles the most valuable items ever left to the RNLI in a single legacy.

The money raised by the auction of the classic Ferraris has also gone to funding the Shannon class lifeboat stationed at Hastings [pictured in main image alongside the £6.6m classic Ferrari].

On Saturday 11 September, RNLI volunteers, donors and invited guests arrived at RNLI Pwllheli for the official boathouse opening, as well as the naming and service of dedication of their new Shannon class lifeboat and launch and recovery system.

In addition to the £2.8m raised by the sale of the Ferraris, community fundraising also raised £100,000 towards the new boathouse.

Richard Colton was a member of the V12 section of the Ferrari Owners’ Club. He passed away in 2015, aged 82. His godson Charles Denton officially opened the new RNLI boathouse by unveiling a plaque as he declared the building open. Colton’s donation is the largest donation in the history of the RNLI.

On the same day, the Shannon launch and recovery system was presented to the RNLI by Andrew Nicholson on behalf of John Llewellyn Mostyn Hughes, whose generous legacy funded the lifesaving equipment.

The station’s new Shannon class lifeboat was presented to the RNLI by Roger Smith, the donor who funded the all-weather lifeboat. The Shannon class lifeboat and Shannon launch and recovery system were both accepted into the RNLI’s lifesaving fleet by the charity’s Chief Executive, Mark Dowie. The all-weather lifeboat and launch and recovery system were then presented and handed over to the care of Clifford Thomas, volunteer lifeboat operations manager on behalf of Pwllheli RNLI.

Smith says: “During my sailing activities I have always had the greatest confidence in the RNLI facilities. Whilst I have never had to call upon their help myself, I have been part of teams who helped yachts that were then handed over to the RNLI.

“Life has been very kind to me, and the RNLI has agreed that I fund a Shannon all-weather lifeboat for Pwllheli. Whilst I have not spent much time in North Wales, I have the greatest of respect for all RNLI stations, their crews and fundraisers. The more I get to know the RNLI fundraisers and volunteer crews, the more admiration I have for them. Churchill said: ‘give me the tools’ and that is what I am proud to be doing.”

The Shannon class lifeboat was officially named Smith Brothers by Smith’s granddaughter Poppy.

Alan Jones, chair of Pwllheli RNLI lifeboat management group says: “Today is a proud day for all at Pwllheli RNLI and the start of a new chapter in the station’s 130-year history. On behalf of all at Pwllheli RNLI I would like to thank everyone who has supported Pwllheli Lifeboat Station to help us get to where we are today, and make sure that our volunteer crew will be here to save lives for many years to come.”