The Lizard lifeboat station has joined forces with TV legend “Boycie” to help the Lizard RNLI fundraise for a £2.7 million new lifeboat.

The RNLI has launched its appeal for a Tamar class all-weather lifeboat, to help the dedicated volunteer crew continue their essential working saving lives around the coast of the Lizard Peninsula, and the Packet will be with them every step of the way as the official media sponsor.

As the newspaper at the heart of the local community, the Packet is delighted to become official media partners for the campaign, helping them every step of the way to reaching their £2.7 million target.

The partnership clearly got the approval of Boycie, actor John Challis, who was spotted reading the Packet while on a surprise trip onboard the current Lizard lifeboat.

The Green Green Grass became blue blue sea for the actor when he took to the water for the birthday surprise.

John, who is known to generations for his scene-stealing performances as Boycie in the hit TV series Only Fools and Horses and subsequent spin off The Green Green Grass, was left overwhelmed at his VIP welcome by volunteers at the remote lifeboat station when he visited.

He immediately agreed to become ambassador for the Lizard Lifeboat Appeal.

His visit to the lifeboat station at Kilcobben Cove was timed to coincide with his 67th birthday and was arranged by his wife, Carol as a surprise.

She knew it had been John's lifelong ambition to visit The Lizard lifeboat in particular, and to support the work of the volunteers. She agreed on his behalf that he would become an ambassador for the new appeal but he knew nothing of the tie-up until he was greeted by RNLI coxswain Phil Burgess.

Once in the lifeboat station, Phil asked him if he would be willing to support the appeal.

When he agreed, he was surprised with a special announcement from the coxswain who said: "I believe I'm right in thinking it's been a lifelong ambition to go on exercise with The Lizard crew. Well never mind Jim'll Fix It, how about Phil'll Fix It?"

To a spontaneous round of applause from the volunteer crew and shore-helpers, Boycie then stepped aboard the station's relief Tyne class all-weather lifeboat The Lady Rank and put to sea to see the work of the charity at first hand.

On his return, Boycie was presented with a huge chocolate and strawberry birthday cake made by RNLI fundraiser Jill Cuff.

Still dressed in his RNLI oilskins and lifejacket, he then spoke of his delight at supporting the new appeal, saying: “I have literally been blown away today. It has always been my ambition to launch down the slipway on exercise and today - my 67th birthday - this has become a reality.”

He described himself as “honoured and thrilled” to the part of this appeal, concluding his speech by saying: “I hope today will be the start of a very happy relationship between the RNLI and me. I look forward to being closely involved with The Lizard lifeboat station in particular and I'm am glad my wife volunteered my services.”

He then lapsed back into character to surprise Phil Burgess by announcing that thanks to his 37 years tireless service with the Lizard Lifeboat, 20 of them as coxswain, he was presenting him with a long-service award, joined by Tom Mansell, RNLI training divisional inspector for the south west.

John added: “You've made hundreds of memorable shouts in all weathers to save lives at sea. You lead a large team of similarly committed volunteer crew and helpers and our thanks should go to them as well.

“I’m proud to present you with this certificate and to say thank you from all of us.”

Mike Lord, RNLI chairman at The Lizard, said: “This appeal for our new boat is a huge task for a small community like ours and support from Boycie gives us a wonderful boost right at the start. We will need every penny to raise the £1.8 million we need to give our crew a faster and ever safer lifeboat and I do hope people will be generous.”

Donations can be made online via the station website, by picking up a leaflet about the appeal and by attending the many events being held all around the Lizard Peninsula.

“It would be wonderful if people could even organise fundraising activities themselves - every contribution will be vital,” added Mr Burgess.