CUMBRAE'S coastguard rescue team's new premises has officially opened for service.

It's a historic moment for the coastguard, which has been operating on the island for 47 years.

Until recently Cumbrae's coastguard team was one of the few in the UK that did not have a dedicated station to call its home, with suitable premises on the island historically proving impossible to come by.

That all changed last month when the team's members moved into their new home directly opposite the Field Studies Council adjoining the Keppel Pier.

Former station officer Luigi Giorgetti cut the 'ribbon' alongside the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's coastal operations area commander Robbie Robertson and senior coastal operations officer Stevie Muldoon.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

Until 2013 the facility was used as part of the former University Marine Biological Station Millport, where it was a centre for hyperbaric medicine and featured a chamber used to treat decompression sickness in divers - commonly known as 'the bends'.

A spokesperson for the local team said: "We now become the next occupants of a building that has a rich and varied history and of which people have very fond memories, having previously been used as a holiday cottage and a ticket office for passenger vessels berthing at the Keppel Pier.

"Having a station in such a strategically valuable location will enhance our team's existing search and rescue capability by improving the quality and diversity of our own training, hosting visits from flank teams and partner agencies, and running open days for the local community, as well as allowing us to safely store and maintain our the many critical items of specialist kit and equipment.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

"Our sincere thanks go to everyone in HM Coastguard and the wider Maritime and Coastguard Agency, as well as the various other partners who have worked tirelessly to provide us with such a superb facility."

A number of training days have already taken place at the new facility since opening, the most recent of which covered a series of procedures including the required schedule of regular operational readiness checks.

Largs and Millport Weekly News:

This included search kit, water rescue kit and their vehicle, and was a great way to help introduce new team members to the many items of kit employed as part of maritime search and rescue requirements, as well as refreshing knowledge for the existing team.