Pensioner thanks kind-hearted South Wales RNLI crew who aided stroke victim

Praise has been heaped on crew members from Barry Dock RNLI for their exceptional casualty care when a pensioner suffered a stroke at a café in Portishead. A friend of the 95-year-old has turned detective to find out the identity of the crew who came to their aid and has finally been able to thank those who offered help.

Marie, 85, had met up with a friend in a café in Portishead Marina. The meeting suddenly took a turn when he began to show obvious signs of a stroke. Thankfully, the RNLI crew from Barry Dock had been visiting the café whilst their lifeboat was undergoing routine maintenance work at the nearby haul out facility. They quickly acted and rushed over to the table to ensure the man got the attention he required. 

Marie said:

‘I know they are well trained for accidents at sea, but they knew exactly how to respond in this situation too. I cannot begin to express how helpful they were, assessing the problem, calling 999, to obtain an ambulance while also ensuring that my friend and I were cared for.  In all, the crew spent about two hours supporting us.’

Marie wrote to the RNLI to express her gratitude and following some detective work by the technical team, it was established that Barry Dock’s lifeboat was in the area undergoing a bottom scrub. The RNLI was able to establish the three crew members who responded were RNLI volunteers Andrew Gavan, Dan Searjeant and Lisa Jones. 

Marie adds:

‘About 7pm that same evening, the phone went, and it was one of the crew members who I now know was Andrew just calling to see if I was OK. They were so concerned for my health and my care, they wanted to be completely assured that I was alright. I was so impressed and when they called how about that for over and above care.

‘I heard later that my friend had received treatment within what they call “the golden hour” which makes such difference to outcomes for stroke patients – all because of the prompt response of the RNLI. He was able to leave hospital that evening, his daughter collected him, he didn’t need to stay overnight. The RNLI’s volunteers are simply amazing and I wanted to take the time to say thank you and wish them all a very Merry Christmas as I know they’ll be on call throughout the festive period.’

On receiving the video message which wishes the crew a Merry Christmas, the three volunteers said they were overwhelmed. 

RNLI volunteer Andrew Gavan, one of those who sent a return message to Lynne said:

‘The RNLI’s training is second to none and being able to help people whether on sea or dry land is what we do. It quickly became clear that Marie’s friend had suffered a stroke and we were able to assist until the paramedics arrived. I remember Marie being really shaken and we were all concerned about her being on her own. We’re so pleased she took the time to send us this message. All at Barry Dock RNLI wish her and her friend a very Merry Christmas.’

Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period. But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

With thousands of volunteers around the UK and Ireland, each RNLI crew member signs up to save everyone from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824.

To donate to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit:

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Danielle Rush on 07786 668829 or [email protected]

Marie's thank you message to Barry Dock 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 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.