Ron’s outstanding service to the RNLI for nearly 50 years.
After 48 years as an RNLI employee and volunteer, Ron Caldicott has been presented with a shield and Certificate of Service by the Chairman of the RNLI, Stuart Popham, in recognition of an outstanding career as both employee and volunteer.
Ron joined the Navy at the age of 15 and spent the next 15 years maintaining the radio and communication devices on destroyers and submarines. In 1970 Ron joined the RNLI maintaining electronic equipment on lifeboats and soon had established repair workshops around the UK. He became the leader of a small team whose job it was to get lifeboats back in service a.s.a.p. So he and the team drove and flew about the UK with the target of repairing and testing within 24 hours of the problem arising. He had just joined the RNLI when he was sent to Barra in the Hebrides to solve a fault and went out on the lifeboat to test the repair. He was in the aft cabin with a big sea running and a crewman lit his pipe, then another lit the paraffin stove to put the kettle on and then, smiling as Ron turned a shade of green, offered him some rum! He survived, just!
During his life with the RNLI Ron started volunteering and joined the Coastguard Mud Rescue Team in Portsmouth where he stayed for 15 years. On retiring and moving to Hayling in 1998, Ron continued his ‘RNLI life’ by joining the Hayling Island Lifeboat crew as a shore crew member. He recalls the many launches by hand across the beach that he was involved with, unlike today when both lifeboats are launched by tractor power! Nigel Roper the station manager at that time soon recognised Ron’s enormous knowledge and expertise and made him a DLA (Deputy Launch Authority) and in 2009 he was awarded the prestigious Silver Statuette by the RNLI, celebrating 39 years of outstanding employment and volunteering. Now in 2018 the RNLI and Hayling Lifeboat Crew are sad to see him retire but celebrated his massive contribution especially in terms of electronic communication and development. Ron said ‘I have a great respect for the guys and it’s been great to work with the young men and women who share a wonderful camaraderie. There have been lots of good times, lots of banter but above all dedication and commitment to getting the job done.’ He also however remembered the difficult times such as being involved after the Penlee Lifeboat capsize in which all the crew were lost at sea.
Our current Lifeboat Manager Jonathan Bradbury (pictured with Ron and Stuart Popham) said of Ron, ‘He is a quiet unassuming man with an outstanding knowledge of all things to do with the sea. Throughout his life he has given his time selflessly to the RNLI and is always full of good advice. He did a huge amount of 1:1 training of new volunteers and we will miss his expertise.’ Stuart Popham thanked Ron and indeed all the volunteer crew for their commitment and dedication without which the RNLI could not continue to do the vital work round out coasts in saving lives at sea.
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.