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RNLI volunteers wed and bid farewell to Portishead

Lifeboats News Release

After 21 years as a lifeboat volunteer, Tony Daw married fundraising volunteer, Shirley.

The pair married last week and bid farewell to Portishead, as they plan to move to Cornwall with Shirley's son to start their married life together.

Tony was part of the team that were first recruited when the Portishead Lifeboat Trust started in 1995. He said: ‘I was one of the very first crew volunteers, we didn’t even have an operational lifeboat when I joined! The lifeboat had already been bought so it was straight on with helping to fundraise for the engines. After a few months, with the amazing support of the local community we were able to go afloat that summer.

'Our first call out was within just a few days and was a life saved. A man had been cut off by the tide up by Severn Side, and it had a big impact on us straight away. It is weird to think that I won’t have a pager anymore. I am looking forward to my new life down in Cornwall with my gorgeous new wife and Nathan, but I will miss everyone.’

Shirley said: ‘If it wasn’t for the lifeboat we wouldn’t have met, it was a really good decision to help with the fundraising. I just wanted to do something for the community and one of the crew members said to come along so I did. I had a lot of fun and found many new friends as well as Tony.‘

When Tony joined the lifeboat volunteers, they were an independent rescue service called the Portishead Lifeboat Trust. They had provided a rescue service in this part of the estuary for over 19 years. Once the RNLI secured a viable site, they built a state of the art new lifeboat station down by the marina and once ready for service, adopted the charity and all its volunteers to run the new station. When he reached retirement age for being on an inshore lifeboat (ILB) crew within the RNLI, Tony became a tractor driver as part of the shore crew. Just as all the training from the new station started, the tractor and launch equipment arrived. The volunteers couldn’t believe it when they saw that the tractor had literally got Tony’s name on it, the registration plate was ‘DAW’. Tony said: ‘It is nice to know that a part of me will be staying at the station, they certainly won’t forget my name!’

After a private wedding, the following day was party time. A few photos were taken at the RNLI station with Tony’s best man Andy Allen, also an RNLI volunteer and Shirley’s son Nathan. Then it was on to celebrate with friends and family from far and wide. Shirley arranged for a ‘lifeboat’ theme wedding cake and put up the bunting that the local children had designed for the opening ceremony around the party venue. All crew volunteers were asked to wear their distinctive RNLI yellow wellies.

Although a duty crew had been selected, just in case there was a call out, the pagers stayed silent for the night much to everybody’s relief. All the volunteers would like to wish Tony and Shirley the very best with their new life in Cornwall, they will be missed! If anyone would like to support the RNLI in Portishead with fundraising please get in touch on send them a message on their Facebook page or website

RNLI notes to editors
Photos © RNLI Portishead

RNLI Portishead volunteer crew with the Bride and Groom at Wedding reception
Andy Allen (best man), Tony Daw (Groom), Nathan and Shirley at RNLI Portishead with launch rig.
Tony Daw, Bob Crane Lifeboat Operations Manager presenting Tony’s leaving gift
Tony on his last training session with RNLI Portishead volunteers

RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Helen Lazenby, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07800 595995 or the RNLI Press Office 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