Berwick-upon-Tweed RNLI mourn the loss of their Educational Visits Officer

Lifeboats News Release

Berwick-upon-Tweed RNLI are mourning the loss of their Educational Visits Officer after the news came from Deputy Second Coxswain Kevin Knox that his Dad, Billy Knox, had peacefully passed away in his sleep on Saturday 26 September 2020.


Billy Knox

Billy joined the RNLI in 2001 as part of the Launch Crew, where he served until he had to retire at the age of 65 from the post. From there he went on to become part of the Deputy Launching Authority up until he was 70.

Not willing to give up serving the charity, he then became the compere on Lifeboat Fete Day, Boat House Manager and Educational Visits Officer. It was in this role along with Press and Educational Officer Hazel Bettison, that they did a double act educating members of the public on the work of the RNLI, with Billy pressing home the importance of Health and Safety whilst going out in the Berwick estuary, to sea or when visiting the beach.

It was due to a tragic accident that happened on Spittal beach, just along from Berwick Lifeboat Station that Billy then became a great supporter of the work the RNLI did in saving lives at sea.

Fifty-four years ago in August 1966 Billy was a fisherman and was with his colleagues fishing for salmon when tragedy struck.

A Sunday school trip had come from Leitholm to the beach for the day. Weather conditions were perfect that day, some of the children had followed a sandbank about 90 meters away from the beach and were playing knee deep in the water. Unbeknown to the children, the river Tweed doesn’t rise an inch at a time but it comes bursting out in spate from Tweedmouth and it was also an ebb tide. Due to this the children became marooned.

After someone raised the alarm, all the fishermen, along with the RNLI, tried to rescue the children. Two of the boys were rescued and survived, unfortunately another three boys perished. This tragedy Billy never forgot, after having recovered one of the boy’s bodies from the sea. He would relate this story, to get the message across how dangerous the water can be, and people should always take care, when on the water or at the beach.

RNL Lifeboat Station Manager, Brian Cowan said: ‘Billy was a much loved and respected member of our station. All at Berwick-upon-Tweed Lifeboat station send their sincere condolences to Billy’s wife Sybil, Kevin and his family, plus Billy’s daughter Sharon and her family.’

RNLI Picture caption

A photograph of Billy Knox. Credit: RNLI.

RNLI Media contacts

For more information please contact Hazel Bettison, RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on: 07944 757578.

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.