A BIG-hearted five-year-old girl, who likes to keep a ‘watchful eye’ on lifesavers, wore her yellow jacket with pride as she handed over the final donation needed to ensure a lifeboat station can receive its modern new boat.

Darcey Payne, described fondly by one crew member as “one-in-a-million”, handed over money she had raised – combined with her pocket money – to Rhyl Lifeboat crew members on Monday.

Rhyl RNLI has now reached its target of £150,000 towards its new Shannon-class lifeboat.

The total was achieved in just 10 months.

Fundraising started last January.

Darcey gives her thoughts. Video: Suzanne Kendrick

The new boat, which has an increased speed of 25 knots compared to the current Mersey class which is capable of 17 knots, is due to arrive in October.

Darcey’s mum Stacey Payne-Burgoyne said her daughter took a ‘shine’ to the lifeboat station - and “heroes of the sea” - when she was just a couple of weeks old. The Ysgol Bryn Hedydd pupil comes to watch the crew during exercises and callouts and will often wait to ensure crew members return to shore.

Darcey, who has her own mini crew kit, started her fundraising appeal off with a £30 donation and raised a further £150 to donate.

Martin Jones, full-time coxswain/mechanic who has been with Rhyl Lifeboat for about 32 years, said: “Little Darcey is a regular to the station. She is a little star. I think for her to finish the appeal is just fantastic. She is one-in-a-million to do what she has done.

"I first met Darcey a couple of years ago. Her mum and dad would bring her down and she would always wave to us and it has just got more and more intense for her over the last couple of years.

“She knows when the boat is out and she will wait for us when we come back - I think she likes to keep an eye on us, make sure we are safe.

“It is amazing [to reach the final total],” Martin added.

“The support we’ve had from our local community - as ever - is just unbelievable. To hit this target so quick is beyond belief really.

Interview: Martin Jones and Darcey's mum Stacey Payne-Burgoyne. Video: Suzanne Kendrick

“The boat is due mid October. She is just finishing off being painted.

“We’ve had the roll out talk and things are really cranking up training wise.

“Four months of training is needed to get the boat ready for service.

“It is very modern. The speed is 25 knots so we can reach casualties even quicker.

“Never in a million years did we think we would smash the target."

Darcey has aspirations of becoming a lifesaver herself.

When asked why she likes coming to the lifeboat station, she replied: “Because it saves people” and that she comes to the lifeboat station “A lot.”

Mum Stacey Payne-Burgoyne said: “Since Darcey was a couple of weeks old, we were coming down to the beach and she just took an instant shine.

“The crew made a big fuss of her and she just loved watching the boat go in and out. It was lovely to see that she had just taken a shine to these heroes of the sea.

“I don’t think she has realised she has [collected the final donation]. She is still collecting now. She has emptied the jar and started again.”

The station has been supported by cllr Pete Prendergast, since revealing the RNLI was the council’s charity of the year.

Fundraising was kick-started last year when Brendan O’Carroll, star of BBC comedy Mrs Brown’s Boys, shocked lifeboat volunteers by revealing on stage at Rhyl Pavilion he would donate £10,000 towards the Shannon-class lifeboat.

In March 2018, Rhyl celebrated a cash injection of £55,000 thanks to the Steve Morgan Foundation.

The appeal has also been supported through the community, a number of events, money donated by fundraising branches across the country as well as groups and individuals.