Hartlepool RNLI volunteer retires after 30 years of saving lives at sea

Lifeboats News Release

A Hartlepool RNLI volunteer is hanging up his waterproofs for the last time as he retires from the charity that saves lives at sea

RNLI/Tom Collins

Hartlepool RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Chris Hornsey presents Fred Robinson(right) with a letter of thanks from RNLI Operations Director John Payne during a presentation at the Ferry Road boathouse.
Fred Robinson of the Headland, Hartlepool has retired as a volunteer at the Ferry Road lifeboat station as he reached his 70th birthday which is the age limit for volunteering for the charity.

Fred served on both the inshore lifeboat and the all weather lifeboat over the years and later took on the role of Deputy Launch Authority at the station and now plans to retire permanently to his home in Portugal.

As a youngster Fred has early memories of the Seaham lifeboat disaster and listening to his dad talk about the time his ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic and how he saved the life of a crewmate who couldn't swim so in a roundabout way that's how the interest in the RNLI began and then one day many years later Fred had seen the local RNLI volunteers out on a training exercise off Hartlepool and thought "I would like to have a go at that" and volunteered.

When asked what he will miss when he leaves the RNLI Fred said "First of all the crew.
I know it's been said before but we really are one big family. The camaraderie is fantastic and especially when at sea when we have to look after each other when things get a bit tricky but I will keep in touch via Whatsap and the internet just to make sure everyone's okay. I won't miss the cold weather that's for sure".
"It's been good to see the new faces joining and watching them develop into very capable volunteers as they learn the skills that are needed at sea. The RNLI is an amazing charity to be involved with and the sense of achievement when the crew save a life at sea or just help someone in difficulty is incredible.
Nothing can match it".

Station mechanic and second coxswain Garry Waugh said 'Fred's a larger than life character and has been a pleasure to go to sea with over the years. He has a great sense of humour and a caring attitude with all the volunteers here and is highly respected so it's really sad to see him retire he will be missed and our tuck shop takings will be down as Fred had a great appetite for crisps chocolate and basically anything edible."

Hartlepool RNLI Coxswain Robbie Maiden said "Fred is a great friend and having spent all these years as a volunteer with him I think I can vouch for all the crew here that he will definitely be missed for being a really approachable, friendly and helpful volunteer who did everything he was asked to do with enthusiasm and professionalism."

Lifeboat Operations manager Chris Hornsey also praised Fred when he said "30 years is an amazing amount of time to volunteer for the charity and no doubt Fred has witnessed some amazing incidents at sea during his time here. On behalf of us all we wish Fred all the best for the future in warmer climes and he will always be welcome at the boathouse."

RNLI/Tom Collins

Hartlepool RNLI volunteer Fred Robinson pictured several years ago.

RNLI/Tom Collins

Hartlepool RNLI volunteer Fred Robinson pictured on the all weather lifeboat several years ago.

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.

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