Portishead RNLI lifeboat helm turns 51 on 51st call out

Lifeboats News Release

It should have been family time for the volunteers when on Thursday evening (15th December), Tony Hancorn (Deputy Launch Authority) was watching his youngest son’s solo performance at his school’s carol concert.

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

My Lady Anne ready to launch

Plus birthday celebrations for Jon Colwill (lifeboat helm) on Saturday evening (17th December) were both bought to a sudden halt, the pagers sounded and away they go selflessly, off to help someone in trouble.

Thursday evening found the volunteers being called to reports of a yacht which had come adrift from its mooring on the River Avon near to Marine Parade, Pill. Working with the Portishead Coastguards, the crew could see that the yacht was almost aground. The owner was trying with his best efforts to tow it back to its mooring by rowing in his tender with a line attached, but it was proving to be quite a challenge despite the calm conditions that evening. The yacht and owner were assisted by the crew and taken back to a Portishead Cruising Club where he would be able to repair his engine the following day, which seemed to be the cause of the situation.

Saturday at 5.20pm came the volunteers 51st call out of the year, Jon celebrating his 51st birthday the very same day dropped everything to respond to the call. Concerns for a kayaker in Clevedon had been reported to the Coastguards, and working with the lifeboat crew they were able to locate him. As they approached him it was clear that he was safe and well. With only a mobile phone for contacting the shore, he was advised to consider going back to the slipway in Clevedon once he discovered he had very little power left on his phone. He was most grateful for the public showing their concerns for his safety.

Jon said: ‘The coincidence of the 51st call out coming on my 51st birthday was spooky, the party hadn’t started for me at that point, everything stops when the pager goes, it's what we do. We are always on call, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even with the Christmas period coming up, if anyone sees anyone in trouble on or near the water they just need to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. It is always better to check that someone is okay.'

It was also Stormy Stan’s turn to join the volunteers who supported the Portishead Victorian night (Fri 16th December), with a souvenir stall outside Woods Estate Agents who kindly supplied mulled wine and mince pies to supporters. Fundraisers were also joined by the amazing Barnacle Buoys who were invited along to also help raise money and awareness for the RNLI. The atmosphere bought the Christmas spirit to light and with the sea shanty’s bellowing out the Victorian Night ended on a high.

The RNLI in Portishead would like to take this opportunity to thank the local community for all their support throughout 2016, in particular the residents living near the station. With the number of call outs more than doubled this year their patience and support is very much appreciated. HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE and lets hope 2017 keeps you safe and well!

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

Boat Cam image of yacht rescue

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

Helmet cam image of Kayak search

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

Barnacle Buoys, Stormy, Crew volunteers outside Woods Estate Agents, Portishead

RNLI/Helen Lazenby

Stormy Stan saying hello

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.