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Surprise Surprise for Ramsey RNLI’s Mechanic

Lifeboats News Release

Ramsey RNLI ambushed station mechanic Mr Alistair (Ali) Clague with a surprise gathering and presentation at the Mitre Hotel, Ramsey on Friday 8 March.

RNLI/Theresa Shammon

Ali Clague, Ramsey RNLI station mechanic

Ali officially stepped down as full-time Ramsey RNLI mechanic at the end of February and the station thought it fitting to mark the occasion with a ‘bit of a do’. Also joining in the celebration were RNLI colleagues from the Island’s other lifeboat stations. During the evening Ramsey Coxswain Mark Kenyon presented Ali with an engraved barometer and clock commemorating his dedication plus a gift voucher.

Ali commenced his lifeboat service as a shore helper with Ramsey RNLI in 1980, aged just sixteen. In January 1983 he became officially enrolled as a volunteer crew member with Ramsey’s then lifeboat, the Oakley class RNLB James Ball Ritchie. In July 1991 he was part of the crew that delivered Ramsey’s current all-weather lifeboat to Ramsey, the Mersey class RNLB Ann & James Ritchie. In 1998 he was appointed assistant lifeboat mechanic and in 2002 he became the station’s full-time lifeboat mechanic. Ali is also qualified as an emergency coxswain.

As full-time station mechanic it has been Ali’s role to ensure that the station’s lifeboat and her life-saving equipment are kept in first rate condition and ready to answer the next emergency call. When at sea, not only did he keep an eye on the engines, but he was also the lifeboats radio operator, responsible for all communications from the lifeboat with the Coastguard, any casualty vessels and the Station’s shore crew.

Mark Kenyon is Ramsey RNLI’s Coxswain and has served alongside Ali for over thirty years. Mark said: ‘The RNLI needs people like Ali and we will miss him as the Station’s mechanic. It is not however a final goodbye as we are welcoming him back as an emergency coxswain/mechanic and volunteer crewman so in effect he has come full circle. The role of station mechanic is diverse and being 'on call' 24/7 requires a level of dedication to the job which is rare these days. Whether it be entertaining school groups, organising events or bouncing around on service calls Ali always gives his all and will be a hard act to follow. He has done a truly tremendous job both as a dedicated volunteer and full-time employee. We wish Ali a long and healthy semi-retirement with his family and offer our thanks on behalf of not only the Ramsey Station and Branch but the RNLI as a whole and also those who have been assisted by him in his many years of service. Thank you, Ali.’

Ali added: ‘The evening was certainly a bit of a shock. The word flabbergasted springs to mind. Nigh on forty years is a long time. At this time with a new lifeboat arriving within the next couple of years or so, I felt that it was an appropriate time to stand down as full-time mechanic. We have an excellent team here at Ramsey RNLI with an extensive range of expertise, ready to enter a new era of life-saving at sea, and it is an honour to work alongside them. However as one chapter in life ends so another begins. I may be stepping down as the Station’s full-time mechanic, but I am by no means abandoning the RNLI charity. I am staying on in a voluntary capacity both as a crew member and emergency mechanic/coxswain, so I will still be wearing my pager, but I am also very much looking forward to a bit of time-out with my family. Thank you.’

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, Carrybridge 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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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland