HOYLAKE lifeboat volunteers will face Hoylake Sailing Club in the 47th annual Slater Trophy Tug O'War at noon on Boxing Day.

The friendly competition was established in 1972 by Arthur Slater of Hoylake Sailing Club and Hoylake RNLI Coxswain Danny Triggs.

It is now a firm festive fixture in the local community.

Since the tradition began, hundreds of spectators have gathered outside the Sailing Club to watch the two teams battle it out on the sand for the coveted Slater Trophy: a small teapot that bears the name of the winning team stretching back for nearly 50 years.

The humble trophy started life in the boardroom of Cammell Laird shipbuilders in the 1960s when the Polaris programme's Resolution-class submarines were under construction in Birkenhead.

The teapot was thrown out, dented and dull, into a McDermott's sprout box and found its way to Hoylake.

After the inaugural Tug O'War tournament in 1972, the teapot was discovered, polished and engraved with the name of the first winning team - the 'Lifeboat'.

So began nearly five decades of local competition, normally celebrated afterwards with a toast to the participants in the sailing club.

Hoylake RNLI Coxswain Andy Dodd said: "It's great that what started out as a bit of fun nearly 50 years ago has become such a meaningful event in the community's calendar.

"We're always encouraged to see more and more people attending each year and we look forward to welcoming everyone on Boxing Day."

The event is free to watch and a great opportunity to walk off Christmas lunch, followed by refreshments in Hoylake Sailing Club.

Volunteers will also be on the promenade collecting donations for the RNLI, which this winter needs support from the public more than ever.

The charity is facing a Perfect Storm: its volunteer lifeboat crews are busier than ever and people are still drowning around the coast of the UK and Republic of Ireland, but its income has gone down.

Andy added: "We hope that people will show their support for the RNLI both by cheering on the team on the beach and by helping to fund our lifesaving work at sea."