Walmer RNLI volunteers clock up 120 years of service
A presentation was held at Walmer lifeboat station to recognise a combined 120 years of service to the RNLI.
Lifeboat Operations Manager Denis Brophy made the presentations yesterday, 2 September, to three dedicated volunteers.
Boathouse Manager Les Coe was presented with a bar to his 50 Year badge, having now completed 62 years of service. During his time on station Les has served as Head Launcher, D Class helm, All-weather lifeboat crew until the boat was retired, along with a number of shore crew roles. Recalling his service Les particularly remembers an incident back in 1970 when he was a member of the crew of the inshore rescue boat who rescued two foreign students from a cliff face cave in St Margaret’s Bay near Dover. The boat went in by moonlight in a heavy swell. At one stage all three crew were thrown into the water. Finding the students asleep they were awakened and taken in the smaller boat in worsening weather conditions to Walmer’s all-weather lifeboat. Classified as the best rescue of the year by an inshore rescue boat the RNLI presented all three crew members with the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on a Vellum.
Les’ son Andrew was awarded a bar to his 20 Year badge having now served for thirty years. He is currently undertaking a number of roles at the station, being the helm for the station’s Atlantic and D Class lifeboats and acting as mechanic for the D Class boat. Following in his father’s footsteps Andrew was also awarded a Vellum in 2003 following a particularly difficult rescue involving a stricken yacht reportedly run aground on the Goodwin Sands.. Following an early morning launch into rough seas and Force 7 winds the station’s Atlantic 21 suffered a loss of engine revs after a rope fouled a propeller. A fellow crewman was able to free the obstruction. After overcoming further difficulties, including having to cut the yacht’s anchor line and the lifeboat going nearly vertical at times due to the sea conditions, the vessel was successfully towed into Dover Harbour. The two other crew were awarded a Vellum Service Certificate for their actions.
Chris Brophy, the third crew member to be acknowledged had a bar to his 20 Year badge having also completing thirty years service. His duties when afloat included crew for the All-Weather Lifeboat Hampshire Rose before it was withdrawn from service, crew on the D Class and Atlantic boats before reverting to shore crew. He is currently mechanic for the station’s Case tractor and carriage.
Speaking after the presentations, which formed part of the station’s annual Blessing of the Lifeboats Service, Operations Manager Denis said ‘95% of RNLI people are volunteers. Without the dedication and courage shown by these three people and thousands of others like them who give their time freely we wouldn’t be able to meet the challenges and dangers of searching for and rescuing people in danger 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.