Awards for Appledore RNLI.

Lifeboats News Release

Appledore RNLI crew members and their families were thanked at their recent long overdue local award presentations, curtailed due to COVID.

RNLI/Niki Tait

Appledore RNLI's Chairman John Pavitt is presented his 50 year long service award medal by its President Rupert Gibson

‘Appledore’s lifeboat crew is made up of so many characters, big personalities, quiet types, natural leaders, hard workers, etc., it really takes all sorts to make a successful crew and this station’s wealth is in its people, the history they make and the pride in which they wear the RNLI badge. I would like to thank them all for their commitment, their passion and belief in the cause. I would also like to thank them on behalf of the people they rescue and their families who know only too well how different their lives would be had the crew not come to the rescue of their loved ones… thank you to the crew’s families, who make such sacrifices to allow this all to happen.’ Phil Hill, Appledore RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager

Within the whole lifeboat service there are not many people who receive a 50 year service medal. However John Pavitt, Appledore RNLI’s Chairman, has not only been presented with his 50 year medal, when his service medal was being looked into, it was found to be nine years too late! John Pavitt has been with Appledore RNLI for 59 years, having joined the crew in 1963.

To quote Phil Hill: ‘John was and is known affectionately as ‘action man’ by his fellow crew members as he is always up to something, whether it’s flying planes or helicopters, pilot boats, diving, testing explosives, trialling new lifeboats or simply acting as second coxswain and helm here at Appledore, he is always busy.

‘He is the highest decorated crew member in Appledore having gained a Vellum in 1971 for a rescue on the Manchester Merit, where the lifeboat doctor was dangling from the end of a rope ladder off the side of a container ship and John managed to climb down and get the man (in his 60’s) back onto the ladder and up to the ship before aiding the casualty back to the lifeboat. He could barely lift his arms for weeks after damaging his tendons but everyone went home safely.

‘He then went on to gain a bronze medal for his efforts in rescuing a windsurfer from Saunton Sands in horrible conditions and I think we all can appreciate how hard it is to gain such an honour from the RNLI.

‘However, the real honour is ours, to have John still with the station providing leadership and guidance through his role as the Local Management Group Chair for the past nine years. He continues to play a significant role in station life and has served his community faithfully for almost 60 years.’

As if a 50 year medal is not sufficient, John will receive his 60 year medal next year!

Overdue long service medals were also presented to inshore helm and all weather lifeboat coxswain Andrew Atkinson for 30 years, and inshore crew and all-weather lifeboat crew /navigator and Sam Ayres for 20 years.

Certificate of Service retirement awards were presented to Steve Watts, Adam Williams, and James Atkinson.

Steve joined the crew at Appledore in 1998 becoming an inshore lifeboat helm in 2003, and all weather lifeboat navigator and ALB mechanic in 2006, retiring in 2019 after over 20 years’ service.

Adam joined the station in 1994 as a shore helper, then shore crew and tractor driver before retiring in 2020 after 26 years.

James served as both inshore and all-weather lifeboat crew for 10 years from 2011 until 2021.

Tony Merrill was presented an Excellence in Volunteering award. To quote Phil Hill: ‘Many of you will know the role Tony played as Appledore Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) but you may not be aware that for a significant period he also took on the role of LOM at Clovelly at the same time. He brought his many strengths to the station here and at Clovelly, even recruiting/training and mentoring their current LOM.

‘He guided the station through the Covid pandemic and played a really significant role in projects such as the Coastal Review, boarding boat trials and especially the work with our fellow agencies to improve the safety and reduction of taskings for both the Taw and Torridge bridges.

‘The role of LOM can be incredibly challenging, its hard work, can feel quite lonely at times and carries a lot of responsibility, in many ways it’s a full-time role but it’s still possible to go the extra mile. For me Tony has demonstrated consistently that he embodies every bit of the RNLI’s core values’.

Letter of thanks were received by David Foster and Andrew Littlejohn. David served with Appledore RNLI from 2013 to 2020, first as shore crew and latterly as Deputy Launching Authority. Andrew joined Appledore as the station Chaplin and Deputy Launching Authority in 2009 standing down as DLA in March 2018. He remains Station Chaplin.

Niki Tait, Lifeboat Press Officer and Deputy Launch Authority received a letter of thanks for support in the production of the BBC’s Saving Lives at Sea series. Appledore has so far appeared in four series with a total of eight episodes.

Congratulations to all the award winners and massive thanks to all the Appledore RNLI crew and their families for their support.

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.