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Why I am taking part in Launch a Memory with the RNLI

RNLI Supporter Debbie Lyon shares her story on why she is remembering her husband Andrew by adding his name to the Wells Launch a Memory lifeboat.

'A positive focus on a heart-breaking loss'

We lost Andy in January, completely out of the blue. He went for a bike ride after a day working from home and suffered a heart attack, which led to a cardiac arrest. He was just 46 years old, and supposedly fit and well.   

When you lose someone, you don’t want them to be forgotten. So, on what would’ve been our 18th wedding anniversary, I added Andy’s name to the Wells Launch a Memory lifeboat

It’s an honour to have his name alongside the names of so many other loved ones - and so fitting for him too.  

A collage of photos of Andrew Lyon. Andrew’s wife Debbie is remembering Andrew on the Wells Launch a Memory lifeboat

Photos: The Lyon family

Fond memories of Andy

‘The sea was his sanctuary’

Andy’s love for the water was born out of family holidays spent by the sea when he was a child.

The sea was his sanctuary. He started surfing at the age of 11 and took up sea swimming in his early forties.  

When I was pregnant with our first son Toby, I remember him coming home with a learner surfboard. I thought: ‘Of all the things we need for our first baby and you bring home a learner surfboard! That will be really useful!’

He was always one of the first swimmers to come in at charity swim events. If he was going to do something, he made sure he did it well.

He was adventurous, but also very cautious about the unpredictability of the sea. He always went swimming with a friend, carried a bright orange float and wore a brightly coloured swimming hat. He’d always say his little prayer to the sea: ‘Please bring me back in.’ He just had that love and respect for the sea.

Nobody goes out for the day anticipating having to rely on the RNLI. And that’s why Andy and I started supporting the charity.

Andrew Lyon with his friends Dan Preece (right) and Andrew Walke (left) standing on East Looe Beach wearing wetsuits and their medals around their necks after completing the Looe Island Swim in September 2017

Photo: The Lyon family

Andy with his friends Dan Preece (right) and Andrew Walke (left) after completing the Looe Island Swim in September 2017

‘Andy is in great company’

It brings me much comfort knowing that Andy is in great company – surrounded by other people’s loved ones and the brave lifeboat volunteers at Wells. 

And for our boys, Toby (15) and Finlay (9), to see their dad’s name on a lifeboat - that’s really something.  

For us, Launch a Memory is such a positive way to remember Andy. It keeps his memory alive and puts a positive focus on a heart-breaking loss. 

It’s as if our loved ones are still out there, still doing their bit to help people. Andy did so much for the kids he taught at school. He was a brilliant, inspirational art teacher and just wanted to share his love and passion for life.  

He’d be completely blown away to know that a JustGiving page I set up in his memory has raised an incredible £5,295 for the RNLI, showing just how loved he was.

He shared the same selfless, unassuming quality as the RNLI’s lifesavers. He was always genuinely interested in the welfare of other people. He saw the beauty in everyone and everything.

For that reason, I know he’d be really honoured and proud to have his name alongside the names of so many other loved ones. 

‘A poignant royal connection’

For the lifeboat to be named after His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh makes it even more of a privilege, and poignant too. Andy and I always joked about the royal connection between our surname Lyon and the Queen Mother’s surname Bowes-Lyon! 

‘Thank you’

Thank you for reading my Launch a Memory story. It feels bittersweet sharing it with you. But I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. I have been touched by all the heart-warming dedications on the RNLI’s online dedication page for the Wells lifeboat.

It’s reassuring to know that we’re all on this journey together. Many lives will be saved at sea in our loved ones’ names for years to come, and that is truly very special. 

Find out more about how you can celebrate the life of someone you miss through Launch a Memory.

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