Long serving Sheerness RNLI lifeboat volunteer retires
After 46 years of service Colin ‘Washy’ Washford has finally retired from his duties with the Sheerness RNLI lifeboat
Fellow crew members past and present gave ‘Washy’ a special send off at the lifeboat stations annual dinner on Saturday 19 November at the Sheerness Golf Club
Sheerness lifeboat management chairman Andy Willmore outlined Colin’s illustrious career with the Sheerness lifeboat before presenting him with framed certificates of his achievements as a crew member over the years.
On behalf of the present crew members Coxswain Robin Castle and Second Coxswain Paul Jarvis presented Colin with a bronze lifeboat man figurine and a bottle of his favourite tipple before wishing him a long and happy retirement.
Colin who is a born and bred Islander was one of the original Sheerness lifeboat crew when the Sheerness RNLI lifeboat station was made permanent in 1970 .
The lifeboat at the time was a Watson class vessel named ‘Gertrude’ which was based in the Great Basin in Sheerness Docks
Colin who worked as a stevedore in the dockyard was ideally placed to be a volunteer lifeboat crew member, eventually reaching the rank of Second Coxswain, a position he held for 10 years.
Colin ‘retired’ in 1999 but after being approached by the lifeboat committee came back on board as secretary and in 2002 took over as lifeboat operations manager.
Being part of the lifeboat community has been a big part of Colin’s life as his father was the original Second Coxswain , brother Tony was also a long term crew member as was brother in law Peter
One of Colin’s most memorable callouts was back in 1976 when the Sheerness Waveney Class lifeboat ‘Helen Turnbull’ , with Coxswain Charlie Bowry in charge, was called to assist a vessel, the ‘Eladnit’, that had run aground in gale force winds on the West Barrow Bank close to the Redsands Towers some 10 miles from Sheerness
After locating the vessel the coxswain made the decision to anchor the lifeboat and Colin and fellow crew member Malcolm Keen were tasked to row a line across to the casualty.
After three attempts they finally managed to get the line attached to the vessel and it was then towed to safety.
The coxswain received an RNLI bronze medal and the crew members received congratulatory certificates for their efforts.
The crew and all members of the Sheerness RNLI lifeboat community wish Colin a long and happy retirement.
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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.