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Longstanding Oban Lifeboat volunteer recognised with top RNLI award

Lifeboats News Release

Oban Lifeboat’s Operations Manager Billy Forteith has been awarded the RNLI’s Gold Badge in recognition of his long service and dedication, following 41 years with the charity.

Billy first joined the RNLI as a volunteer at Oban Lifeboat station in 1975, just a few years after the station itself was founded in 1972.

At the time the station would have been operating it’s first lifeboat, a 18’ McLachlan inshore lifeboat providing only seasonal cover during the summer months. The first all-weather lifeboat arrived on scene in 1978, quickly followed by a newer model, before our current Trent class Mora Edith MacDonald was allocated in 1997.

Starting off as a crew member, Billy progressed through the ranks to become an Emergency Mechanic, followed by Deputy Coxswain and finally 2nd Coxswain. He then took on the station’s Lifeboat Operations Manager role.

Our Chairman Mike Robertson commented on Billy’s time with the station, 'I think that word “fun” is important, both about the huge contribution Billy has made to the station over the years, and to other crew members and volunteers taking part in the lifeboat family at Oban.

'Billy has always been very much involved in the likes of station BBQsBilly has always been very much involved in the likes of station BBQs, which used to include “Malt&Salt” events at the distillery, raft races, and latterly Open Day events.  As the current station Lifeboat Operations Manager Billy gives a huge amount of voluntary time and work on behalf of the station. His award of the RNLI gold medal is richly deserved.'

During his time he also received the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum.

The prestigious gold badge award, presented at the RNLI’s award ceremony in Perth, recognises Billy’s significant contribution and dedication to the charity over the years. He remains an integral part of the lifeboat family. We'd like to say a big congratulations, and thank you from everyone at the station.

RNLI media contacts

Leonie Woolf, Oban Lifeboat Deputy Press Officer Tel: 07818 861517/ 01631 569735 Email:

Richard Smith, Public Relations Manager Scotland on 01738 642956, 07786 668903 or

Henry Weaver, RNLI Press Officer for Scotland, 01738 642946, 07771 943026,

RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland