Poole Lifeboat volunteer presented with award for twenty years of service
Dave Riley, affectingly known as ‘Smiley Riley’ at the station, is one of the most active crew members, his name can be found high on the leader board for ‘shouts’ attended during the year.
Dave officially joined the lifeboat crew down in Eastbourne on his birthday June 17 1996, this year he celebrated his birthday with an extra honour, twenty years as a lifeboat volunteer and was presented with his long service medal at a regional RNLI award ceremony at Dartington Hall on June 30th, a very proud moment for Dave and his family, and the whole of the Poole Lifeboat Station are delighted for him to be recognised
‘As a child I would always hear the maroons go off in Eastbourne and I would rush down with my dad to see the ‘Rother class’ lifeboat launch down the beach. I knew from an early age that’s what I wanted to do. I filled in all the paper work when I was 16 so on my 17th birthday I was officially enrolled and received the best present ever, an RNLI pager’.
Dave started training in June onboard the inshore lifeboat and his first call came in October, one which he will never forget.
Dave recalled, ‘The pager sounded and it was really blowing hard and pouring with rain. As we arrived at the station we were tasked to a report that a windsurfer was in difficulty, only 3 miles away but in awful conditions. The launch was interesting, to say the least but the more experienced crews looked after me. We launched and proceeded with the all-weather boat, losing sight of it between the seas. On this occasion the windsurfer was safely ashore but the conditions were something that even to this day I will remember like yesterday, a real baptism of fire’.
In 2000 when Sussex was devastated by floods. Dave volunteered with other crew and the Eastbourne inshore lifeboats to flood stricken Lewes, to assist with evacuations. Then in 2002 Dave launched ‘in a medal service rescue’, where the Eastbourne Coxswain received a Silver gallantry medal and the mechanic a Bronze. The service took place in darkness, with a wind blowing south-easterly gale force 8 and a wave height of 3m. The stricken yacht, which had been attempting to enter the harbour, was being constantly battered by large waves and both crew on the yacht were thrown into the water, as the vessel began to sink. The crew members, a man and a woman, were recovered from the water.
In 2004 Dave moved to Poole to take up a role as an RNLI Trainer and transferred to the Poole Lifeboat crew. In 2006 he became a helm on the Atlantic 75 and then in 2008 he became a deputy Coxswain on the all-weather lifeboat, if this wasn’t enough, in September 2015, Dave also became a volunteer press officer at the station, running the twitter page and promoting the work that the station does and with his keen interest and talent behind the camera lens, a lot of fantastic images that Dave has captured out on the lifeboat have been shared.
Dave is a true lifeboat man through and through and a prolific one, his personal stats lay testament to this, with 722 launches of which 57 lives saved and 961 people rescued.
Dave is the third crew member at Poole Lifeboat station to receive this award this year Anne Millman and Glen Mallen received their Twenty years award in January.
The Citation read by RNLI Divisional Operations Manager, Nigel Jones at the awards ceremony’
Nigel Jones said;
‘David has been involved with the RNLI since 1996. Joining Eastbourne lifeboat as crew in June 1996, he rapidly progressed through the ranks, becoming a D class helm and ALB navigator in 2003.
In November 2004 Dave became an inshore lifeboat instructor at the college, and immediately joined Poole lifeboat crew where he has served since 2005.
Dave continued climbing the ranks to Atlantic Helmsman in 2006 and ALB Coxswain in March 2008.
Since 2015, also taken a vested interest in the media aspects of Poole Lifeboat station and devotes whatever little free time is left being the Assistant Lifeboat Press Officer.
Dave was awarded a Chief Executive’s Letter of thanks in 1999, and an Operations Directors Letter of thanks in 2004 for exemplary services’.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Anne-Marie Clark, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07887 855073 - firstname.lastname@example.org
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, in a normal year, 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.