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Weymouth lifeboat crew member retires after 36 years of saving lives

Lifeboats News Release

Weymouth RNLI lifeboat crew member Graham Keates has hung up his lifejacket after 36 years of saving lives at sea and retired as a volunteer from the lifeboat crew.

Coxswain Andy Sargent with Graham Keates with presentation painting in the background

RNLI/Ken Francis

Coxswain Andy Sargent and Graham Keates

Graham was the last serving member of the crew with a RNLI Bronze Medal for bravery. The medal was awarded to Graham for his part in the service on the night of the infamous hurricane when the lifeboat was launched to go to the assistance of the catamaran Storm Chaser.

A function to celebrate the exemplary service that Graham has given to the RNLI was held on Saturday 31 March 2018 at Weymouth Sailing Club. Family, friends, crew members past and present gathered together to give Graham a right royal send off.

Lifeboat Coxswain Andy Sargent said: 'RNLI electronic records which started in 1994, 12 years after Graham joined the crew, show that Graham has completed 564 shouts totalling 1,232 hours at sea. Rescuing 856 people and saving 93 lives.'

He presented Graham with a gift from the station of a painting featuring all of the lifeboats that Graham had served on and then in a speech recalled some of the shouts that Graham had been called out on.

RNLI Lifeboats Operations Manager for Weymouth lifeboat station Malcolm Wright gave a speech in which he praised Graham for his dedication to the RNLI over such a long time, he then presented Graham with a certificate from the RNLI that thanked him for his 36 years of service.

The Keates dynasty will carry on though on Weymouth lifeboat, with Graham's son Matthew a volunteer crew member and also a trainer at RNLI Headquarters in Poole. While Graham's son in law Tye Shuttleworth is a volunteer crew and deputy coxswain on the lifeboat.

Graham says that he will not be cutting all ties with the lifeboat station as he is to take on the roll of shore based mentor to new crew members.

LOM Malcolm Wright presents Graham Keates with certificate of thanks.

RNLI/Ken Francis

Graham Keates with LOM Malcolm Wright

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 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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