A SPECIAL Poole Harbour permit has paid homage to one of the town's historic World War II vessels – the RNLI lifeboat Thomas Kirk Wright.

This lifeboat was the first of 19 RNLI south coast vessels to make it to the beaches at Dunkirk on May 30, 1940, during Operation Dynamo.

With the British Expeditionary Force and remnants of the French army on the backfoot after the disastrous six-week Battle of France, hundreds of thousands of men found themselves cut off and surrounded by German troops.

What followed would become known as the 'Miracle of Dunkirk' as over eight days some 338,226 men were rescued by a hastily-assembled fleet of more than 800 vessels, or 'Dunkirk Little Ships'.

With this year's 80th anniversary celebrations of Dunkirk coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic, many celebrations and commemorations had to be put on hold.

Among these postponed events was Poole RNLI's open air service, which had been scheduled to take place outside the Old Lifeboat Station.

There was going to be a flotilla of small vessels to represent the fleet of Poole's Dunkirk Little Ships.

Anne-Marie Clark, Poole lifeboat volunteer, said: "We shall never forget the part that the small flotilla that left Poole Quay played 80 years ago.

"They answered the call and changed history against the odds.

"Our ‘Dunkirk Little Ship’ is still in the lifeboat station where she served and is testimony to the miracle.

"The soldiers are very few now as the years pass but we vow to share their story, through our lifeboat.

"The lifeboat is a beacon of hope and a brave inspiration to all the generations that follow."

Poole provided many boast for the wartime rescue including eleven passenger boats built b y Bolsons on the quay - all called Skylark.

Other vessels included passenger ferries for Brownsea Island, fishing boats and several Dutch 'Schuyts' barges.

The Thomas Kirk Wright features on the new Poole Harbour Commissioners' (PHC) Harbour Dues permit sticker for 2020.

Anne-Marie said: "The volunteers were incredibly sad, that we couldn't mark this event as we would wish to but in true ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ we will not be beaten in these uncertain times, and we will commemorate in 2021 - 80 years plus one.

"We are really chuffed and proud that the ‘armada’ of vessels that are moored in Poole today, will have a piece of ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ with them this year, displayed on the harbour dues permit, thank you PHC, it is something rather special and poignant in these difficult days, to remember, we can overcome adversity and rise above."