Queen’s Birthday Honour for Cullercoats safety officer

Lifeboats News Release

Cullercoats RNLI Community Safety Officer Geoff Cowan has received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, in recognition of his outstanding work and dedication to sharing water safety advice in the North East.

RNLI/Jim Rice

Geoff is a well-known and dedicated volunteer in the north-east, helping share water safety messaging with his local community and working on the prevention of incidents in the water.

Geoff has volunteered with the RNLI for more than 45 years, first as crew at both Tynemouth and Cullercoats Lifeboat Stations, and more recently sharing his experience and knowledge of the coast as a Community Safety Officer (CSO).

Geoff started the locker initiative that helped to encourage commercial fishermen to wear lifejackets when climbing between boats from the dockside, following the tragic deaths of two local fishermen. The lockers now enable local fishermen to store their lifejackets on the dock, so they are readily available.

Geoff’s honour comes at a time when the RNLI are looking to recruit a number of CSOs at nearby Sunderland, Redcar and Whitby. Amber French, Volunteer Advisor for the North and East said: ‘We can only keep people safe thanks to our amazing volunteers. As a Community Safety Officer you’ll play a crucial part in saving lives at sea. Visit RNLI.org/volunteering to find out more.’

The birthday honours, which are usually announced in June, have been delayed this year due to the pandemic.

Upon hearing the news of his award, Geoff said: ‘I am absolutely delighted to have been included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. The RNLI has undergone massive changes since I joined in 1973, and I remain proud of the lifesaving work the charity continues to do. I am excited to carry on the work I’ve undertaken over the last 47 years, helping the local community to have a better understanding of water safety so that we can continue to save lives at sea.’

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie said: ‘It is such a delight to see Geoff recognised for his hard work and commitment, particularly as we near the end of such a challenging year. Those who have been named in this year’s Birthday Honours truly represent the RNLI values through their dedication, support and courage. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, I send Geoff my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude.’

RNLI media contacts
For more information or to request an interview, please contact Jim Rice, RNLI Regional Media Manager, at jim_rice@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively, call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.

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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.

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