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New engine gives old hovercraft new lease of life

By This is Bath  |  Posted: August 16, 2010

New engine

New engine

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Generous engineers have come to the rescue of Somerset's life-saving hovercraft.

The engine of the Spirit of Lelaina hovercraft operated by Burnham Area Rescue Boat (BARB) volunteers was beginning to feel the strain after six years of service.

Luckily, the resort is a favourite holiday destination for Neil Butler, a chief engineer based at engine makers MG Motor UK in Birmingham.

He heard the engine straining, realised it could do with some help and that one of MG TF's new engines built in Birmingham would fit and do a better job.

The firm agreed to donate a new 135hp engine, which will give the hovercraft a 40knot capability and cut down the time it takes to get to people in peril. Mr Butler spent many hours adapting it to salt water conditions.

Mr Butler and Richard Moore, executive director of parent company SAIC UK Technical Centre, presented the engine to BARB yesterday during an emergency services awareness day on the sea front, which featured 18 professional and voluntary organisations.

Mark Newman, chairman of BARB said: "The new MG engine will be crucial to our work in saving lives and we are extremely grateful to Neil and everyone at MG and the Technical Centre who have been so generous and helpful."

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