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A Lifetime of Service to Stromness RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Stewart Taylor retired as operations manager at Stromness lifeboat earlier this year, dedicating a lifetime to the charity.

RNLI/Richard Clubley

Along with all other RNLI lifeboats Violet Dorothy and Kathleen was confined to her berth during lockdown - except for emergencies - but finally got the go ahead to return to exercises on 10 August 2020. On a bright, sunny Monday evening she was photographed pulling away from the berth and with the famous old 'red shed', the former lifeboat station in the background.

Sheffield artist, Liz Thomson, turned the photo into a beautiful watercolour painting which brilliantly captures the life and movement in the boat, as well as the atmospheric Stromness waterfront behind. The painting was commissioned as a retirement gift to Stewart from all the crew.

Mindful of covid restrictions, the presentation was carried out in a very brief ceremony outside the Stromness lifeboat station on Saturday afternoon recently. Fortunately the size of the painting made it easy for Coxswain Colin Mowat to keep his distance and still strike a good pose.

The easel was tied to the station door and the painting secured firmly to the easel. Mechanic John Davidson held onto both until the very last minute.

Stewart Taylor was a shore helper with the Longhope lifeboat from the age of 14 in the 1960s. He was one of the first to volunteer to form a new crew after the tragic loss of all hands on the Longhope lifeboat - TGB - in 1969.

He has served the RNLI in a variety of capacities ever since. People have said recently that Stewart Taylor has RNLI written all the way through him and it would be very hard to disagree.

Past Coxswain, Fred Breck, said: 'Stewart and I worked well together on the boat - the boat is only as good as the collection of crew members taking her to sea, and we have a very good one. Stewart Taylor is a dedicated lifeboatman. He kept the boat exceptionally well as mechanic. He has a cool head, never gets flustered. He's a practical guy - very switched on - I thoroughly enjoyed sailing with him.'

Today's Coxswain, Colin Mowat, feels the same. Colin said: 'I have known Stewart all my life. He is a big miss at the station after so many years but will be keeping his hand in as treasurer. He was always dedicated to the lifeboat service, maintaining the boats to a high standard as mechanic and arranging the shore side to run as sweet as a nut. He was always there if you had doubts or queries, especially after a bad shout.'

Bella Wishart, president of the Stromness Lifeboat Ladies' Guild said: 'Stewart is the most dedicated person I know - 24/7 he has been available for the lifeboat and anyone connected with it. Stewart's just like a big cushion, you can always fall back on him and feel comfortable.'

Talking of his time with the RNLI and his retirement, Stewart said: 'I was brought up close to the Longhope Lifeboat Station and always wanted to follow my grandfather, father and uncles into the service. Retirement will be strange but I know that younger people have to take over and I'm relieved in a way to be passing the responsibility on.

Thank you, Stewart, on behalf of the Stromness community and the whole RNLI family. Have a long and happy retirement from all past and present crew.

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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.