Today marks the retirement of long-standing Troon lifeboat crew member Walter Barr after almost 28 years service to the RNLI in Troon as he stands down from his position on the lifeboat crew.
Since 1993, self-employed joiner Walter has been a volunteer crew member aboard two of the stations all-weather lifeboats Arun class
RNLB City of Glasgow III and the current Trent class lifeboat RNLB Jim Moffat.
As a RNLI volunteer, Walter has been on-call 24/7 since he joined the lifeboat crew. At the unexpected sound of his RNLI pager, Walter has attended numerous callouts from searches, to towing in pleasure craft, medical emergencies and vessels aground.
Over the years, Walter has missed family events, been disturbed during the night while he slept and while working has occasionally left the houses of understanding customers in the middle of kitchen renovations.
Looking back over his many callouts Walter said, ‘There have been lots of different callouts over the years, some good, some not so good, but that’s the nature of the service. For some reason, one that sticks in my mind was the ‘rescue’ of a 6ft inflatable dolphin at South Beach, Troon! It just shows that you really don’t know what you’ll be called out for next.’
Within the station, Walter progressed from crew member to navigator and then as deputy second coxswain he would also provide cover for the full time coxswain while they were on leave. On callouts and training nights, Walter would regularly take on the 2IC (second in charge) role taking charge of the deck crew overseeing many tows, first aid scenarios and man overboard drills. As a long-standing crew member, Walter also held the position of crew representative at the station management group meetings.
Due to COVID, regular crew training had until recently been postponed but luckily it was recently reintroduced, so Walter joined the crew for his final training night on Monday 22 March and attended his final call out a couple of days later aboard the Trent class all-weather lifeboat on Thursday 25 March when the stations D class inshore lifeboat
Sheena rescued a sea swimmer in difficulty off Irvine.
Speaking about his retirement from the crew Walter said, ‘I will miss the crew and all at the station, their friendship and their professional crewing of Troon lifeboat. They are a fantastic bunch of people who sometimes do an invisible job way out at sea or in the middle of the night.’
‘I wish them all the success in their future callouts and for them always to have a safe return to Troon.’
Troon lifeboat Coxswain Joe Millar said, ’I have had the pleasure of working alongside Walter for several years now during my time as crew member, mechanic and coxswain at Troon. Walter is not only a well-known member and committed member of the lifeboat crew in Troon but also a respected figure in the local community.
‘After joining the station in 1993, Walter quickly became a valued member of the lifeboat crew, regularly passing on his skills to new members of the crew. His knowledge and experience will be missed on training nights and callouts but after almost 28 years service to the RNLI he has earned a break away from his pager.’
‘Unfortunately, due to the present Covid restrictions we are unable to give Walter a proper send off, but the crew hope to meet up for a farewell night out in the not-too-distant future.'
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.
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