A farewell launch for long serving Poole crew member
They say at New Year, out with the old and in with the new and that literally happened at Poole lifeboat Station as one of our DLA’s (Deputy Launching authorities) and Long serving volunteer Andy Elton, handed his pager in and stood down from Poole lifeboat Station.
However the ‘Elton’ name is still on the crew list as Andy’s son, Tom joined the crew and has embarked on his lifeboat crew training.
There seemingly is an ‘Elton’ family tradition or trait of being involved with the RNLI as Andy’s dad, Ian worked for many years around the coast for the RNLI as does Andy and Tom has succumbed too as he is as an RNLI marine engineer apprentice, RNLI brine is definitely in the Elton blood and the station is very pleased that Tom is continuing the dynasty.
Andy joined the crew in 1990 when the lifeboat station had moved from Salterns to its present home on Poole Quay, Steve Vince was Coxswain but Andy had been in and out of the station when it was at Salterns, visiting often as a ‘young un’ with his dad Ian. Andy recalls children's Christmas parties at Salterns, Boxing day revelries at Lilliput Sailing club and Frank Ide was Coxswain then, serving on the Waveney and Brede class lifeboat, heady days gleaning all aspects of life boating from the old timers.
Andy was the Fulltime Station Mechanic, for a while and the lifeboats and station were in pristine condition during his tenure which he eventually left to take up a job working at the RNLI.(this was in his DNA)
Andy remained a busy volunteer at the station, he was always supporting the mechanics and he then became Second Coxswain.
Andy was Second Coxswain when the ‘City of Sheffield’, all-weather lifeboat left Poole in 2016 and he was instrumental in arranging the weekend when it departed, he set the tone perfectly which was very much appreciated by all the crew. All on the boat that grey November day will always remember the moving moment when the 2nd Coxswain lowered the RNLI pennant for the last time and presented it to the Coxswain.
Though Andy stepped down from manning the lifeboats he remained an integral volunteer at the station as a Deputy Launching Authority and was always around to help and share advice.
On Saturday January 5th Andy donned an Inshore lifeboat kit alongside his son Tom, 18, with Helm Rob Inett and long serving volunteer Jonathan Clark, they went out on the Poole Atlantic 85 class inshore lifeboat Sgt Bob Martin, for a send-off at sea, dad and lad afloat together.
‘It reminded me why I gave up going out on inshore lifeboats, despite being freezing, it was emotional but a good memory to go out alongside Tom and witness the next generation of Elton’s behind the wheel. Many crew have come and gone during my 28 years on station, some who were legends in their own rights sadly now no longer with us. The station has changed significantly since I was asked to join, the one thing that has not changed is the commitment of the crews. I am proud to have been part of Poole lifeboat crew’.
When the lifeboat arrived back at the station some of the old and new crew were there to greet Andy, sharing a few yarns and reminisces over a cup of tea.
Jonathan who has served alongside Andy for 28 years said;
‘It is funny to think that Andy is one of the long serving old timers, when we started out , you think back to some of those characters then, and realise that now we have become them! Andy has a wise head and an awful lot of experience which the station will miss, we have had some great times serving alongside some real Poole characters, lots of tales and experiences out on the boats that tested us but also bonded us. We have had some highs and real hard times, losing a few good friends along the way, so many experiences over the years. I can honestly say that it’s been an honour to serve with Andy and he is without doubt an exceptional lifeboat man, we all wish him well and thank him, thank him for the many sacrifices over many years and his exemplary service to Poole Lifeboat Station’.
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.