Port Talbot RNLI volunteer recognised in the New Year Honour list
Port Talbot RNLI volunteer Robert Harris, fondly known as Robbie, has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s New Year Honour list for his dedication and service to saving lives at sea.
Robbie is an outstanding individual who has volunteered at Port Talbot Lifeboat Station for over 34 years. He recently stepped down from the important role of the day to day running of the station as Lifeboat Operations Manager having served in various roles over the years. His extensive local knowledge, experience and professionalism enabled him to develop an excellent team with many of the current lifeboat crew having come through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme. For many years he has coached these youngsters from shy teenagers to the crew of the future.
During his own 13 years on the crew he took part in many rescues. The most notable rescue was in 1995 when he was awarded an RNLI gallantry medal for his courage, initiative and seamanship when he was transferred to a converted ships lifeboat which had been disabled in gale force winds and high seas. He was able to secure a tow and provide reassurance to the three persons on board whilst the vessel was taken to safety.
Extremely dedicated and a very unassuming individual, he has also become a driving force for maritime safety locally and a key member of the local boat club. His passion, demeanour and experience on the lifeboat makes him the perfect individual to deliver advice. He has given hundreds of talks promoting not only the work of the RNLI but the wider safety messages highlighting the risks within the local area. This is often no easy task, but he does so with such wisdom and diplomacy; there is no doubt that he has prevented further tragedy.
Still in shock of receiving the news, Robbie says: ‘I was totally surprised and taken aback when I was informed of this award. I never expected anything like this to happen to me. I could not have done it without the wonderful support of the crew, past and present and also my management and fundraising teams.’
‘I enjoyed firstly being on the crew where we all had to work together closely. Then taking over from Dave Aubrey as the station’s Hon. Secretary who was a hard act to follow. We had some hard work ahead of us; a new lifeboat, land rover and finally a new station which I was heavily involved with. New crew and helpers, including a new souvenir shop. Later followed the introduction of RNLI lifeguards whom I welcomed to the station. I have enjoyed it all especially making new friends.’
Robbie continues: ‘This award signifies the hard work done by us all and I dedicate this award to them. Without them and my chairman I would not have been successful. I would also like to thank our station president, divisional base and the wonderful inspectors I have met over the years, shore workers and technicians included. I feel humbled and honoured to receive this award.’
RNLI Chief Executive Paul Boissier said: ‘The RNLI depends on the tremendous courage, commitment and skill of its volunteers, staff and fundraisers – and those that have been named in this year’s New Year Honours truly exemplify those qualities. I am immensely proud of all our tireless staff and volunteers who received Honours this year – it is wonderful that these well-deserving people have been recognised in this way, we could not carry on our lifesaving work without them.’
Notes to editor
Attached is a photo of and Robert (Robbie) Harris of Port Talbot Lifeboat Station.
Credit - RNLI
RNLI media contact
For more information contact Eleri Roberts, RNLI Media Officer on 07771 941390 or email Eleri_Roberts@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email PressOffice@rnli.org.uk.
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.