Volunteer crewmember Kenny Hay(affectionately known to his crew members as ‘Barbie’) who is an inshore lifeboat helm and all weather lifeboat mechanic at the Ferry Road lifeboat station has been awarded his 20 years long service award with the Hartlepool RNLI
The 40 year old Tesco maintenance technician and dad to 11 year old Josh and 6 year old Cora and married to wife Tracey said 'The 20 years have absolutely flown by but like the rest of the crew I'm always on call 24-7 and have had lots of memorable moments over the years but just being part of the lifeboat crew here is what it's all about as we are all one big family that come together when the pagers go off to help anyone at sea that needs us'.
The former St John Vianney and Henry Smiths school pupil joined the charity back in 2000 as a fresh faced youngster from Carrick Street on the local West View estate.
Kenny recalls 'I've always had in interest in the emergency services but my story with the RNLI began when I was going out for a Chinese takeaway with my mate Will Hornsey who was on the lifeboat crew at the time and his pager went off so we drove down to the lifeboat station and I was able to watch the lifeboat launch and from that moment I thought it was about time I gave a bit back to the community so I joined up.'
Hartlepool RNLI coxswain Robbie Maiden said 'When Kenny turned up he trained hard alongside the other volunteers and has since become an integral part of the team and has also become a valuable mentor to the new crew members on both inshore and all weather lifeboats'.
Robbie went on to say 'I do remember we had a slight problem when Kenny first joined. Kenny joined when another Kenny joined so to avoid confusion we nicknamed Kenny 'Barbie' as in 'Ken and Barbie' after the popular toys'.
'Ken' moved on to pastures new but 'Barbie'(Ken Hay) stayed with us and after all these years Ken is still known as 'Barbie' to the crew and on behalf of myself and all the crew we would like to say congratulations to 'Barbie' for his 20 years with the RNLI'.
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.