RNLI volunteers recognised in King’s New Year Honours
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers have been recognised in His Majesty The King’s New Year Honours for their roles in helping the charity save lives at sea.
Five RNLI volunteers with nearly 240 years of service between them – including a lifeboat volunteer of 62 years, and a fundraiser of 52 years who has helped raise nearly £2 million – and a campaigner who after losing her son to drowning has relentlessly supported water safety education, are among those who have been recognised by His Majesty The King for their incredible contribution to the charity and drowning prevention.
RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie said: ‘In 2022, the RNLI has seen a welcome return to volunteer recognition events following the pandemic, with hundreds being recognised for long service and excellence in volunteering awards. These six individuals represent the icing on the cake as we commemorate the contribution all our people have made in another busy year for our frontline services.
‘I have found you can never make assumptions about the people you meet in all roles within the RNLI; they all have fascinating back-stories and I often leave a visit feeling profoundly humbled. The stories behind these six are no exception, epitomising the RNLI’s values in all they do to save lives at sea. They richly deserve this national recognition – my congratulations to them all.’
During 55 years of unbroken voluntary service, Denis Brophy has undertaken a wide range of roles at Walmer Lifeboat Station, including Crew, Coxswain, Deputy Launching Authority and Lifeboat Operations Manager, a position he has held since 2001.
In this time, Walmer Lifeboat Station has been involved in 1,257 launches, aided 1,429 people and saved 313 lives. Now, in recognition of his years of supportive and diplomatic leadership, he has been awarded an MBE.
Denis said: ‘The news was a great shock and very unexpected and I was moved, humbled and surprised that I was considered worthy of such an honour. I have only ever tried to do my best for Walmer lifeboat and the RNLI, and to see the station thrive and everyone there develop in their roles has been a reward in itself.
‘It’s a true honour to accept the award on behalf of everyone at Walmer Lifeboat Station both past and present.’
Also in receipt of an MBE is Dupre Strutt, Mechanic at RNLI Kirkwall Lifeboat Station and retired Area Lifesaving Manager for Scotland.
Part of the fabric of Kirkwall Lifeboat Station, Dupre followed in his father’s footsteps in joining the lifeboat, having grown up in the station. Since joining in 1983, Dupre has given 39 years of service to the RNLI, in which time he has been directly involved in over 300 rescues, saving over 60 lives.
Dupre said: ‘I feel proud of what we’ve achieved and like I’ve made a difference to the seafaring community. Knowing that there’ll be some families together that wouldn’t have been because of that contribution makes me proud.
‘I feel very honoured to have been given this award, but I also feel that it’s a reflection on the RNLI itself and all the volunteers. If it wasn’t for all the volunteers and the support of their families, we wouldn’t have the service we have.
‘I’m a part of a team, and if it wasn’t for the operational volunteers at sea, the fundraising volunteers that raise money and the public that support the RNLI we couldn’t continue and I wouldn’t have been able to make the difference that I’ve been able to make.’
Edwin ‘Ted’ Luckin joined the RNLI in 1960 when he was invited to join Cromer lifeboat as Tractor Driver and Mechanic. He has since held wide-ranging roles at the station including being appointed Senior Helm of the station’s new inshore lifeboat in 1965, taking part in more than 70 shouts, in which he is credited with saving many lives.
Now 93 years old, having given 62 years of dedicated service to the RNLI, he has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM). He retired from operational duty on the lifeboats in 2000 but remained as Boathouse Manager until he retired in September 2022 when he had a hip replacement, but plans to be back in the station before long.
Ted said: ‘It came as a bombshell when I got the letter – I was very surprised and very pleased to accept the honour.
‘There’s not many of us who’ve been able to be with the RNLI for as long as I have, and I feel proud for what I’ve been able to do. I’ve enjoyed 60 years on the station and I’ve had some lovely times.’
Following the tragic loss of her son, James, in 2005, Andrea Corrie has campaigned tirelessly for improvements in water safety and in support of water safety education.
Now, in recognition of the work she has done to help prevent others from facing the grief she has, she has been awarded a BEM.
Andrea said ‘I was amazed when I found out the news; it was so unexpected and was an amazing surprise. To get recognition is wonderful but it doesn’t change the reason why I do any of it.
‘All the work that I do and have done since we lost James honours his memory. It helps me try to process something awful that happened and to try to make a difference to prevent other people going through what we have gone through in losing a child.’
Since 2014, she has volunteered her time and shared her story to support the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign, making a significant contribution to fundraising, awareness and training within the organisation.
She said: ‘One of my proudest times was in 2014 when I became involved in the Respect the Water campaign, and realising the impact that James’s story had. It helps me to be able to share what happened to try to make something positive out of something really negative.’
Also awarded a BEM is the Fundraising Secretary at Penlee Lifeboat Station, Rosalie Whitlock. Rosalie has been an integral part of the RNLI lifesaving community in Penlee, Mousehole and Newlyn since joining as a fundraiser in 1970 with a collection box on the main street of Penzance.
She then began selling souvenirs from her own home before setting up the RNLI’s first shop in Penzance, and then quickly became Fundraising Secretary at Penlee, a position she has held for 47 years. Since she joined, the Penlee Fundraising Branch is credited with raising nearly £2 million through souvenir and shop sales and local events.
Rosalie said: ‘I am thrilled and delighted about this award; it’s quite overwhelming, though none of it would have been possible without the team of dedicated volunteers.
‘The RNLI is a wonderful family and one which I am proud to belong to. While I believe one should never look for thanks for doing a job that you love, when you get recognition, it means so much.’
Rosalie also played a pivotal role during the Penlee Lifeboat Disaster when, in December 1981, all eight RNLI crew on the Solomon Browne tragically lost their lives in an attempt to save the crew onboard the Union Star. She organised a team of fundraisers who worked day and night for several weeks taking calls and dealing with the sacks of mail and donations that were arriving daily.
She said: ‘My heart will always be with Penlee, having been through those dark times of the disaster, being there in the aftermath and then slowly helping to build the station up again to what we are today has been a great privilege.’
Volunteer Mechanic and Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) at Kirkcudbright Lifeboat Station William ‘John’ Collins has been awarded a BEM for his dedication to the RNLI and the community in the town.
He joined the station in 1991 as a mechanic, a role which he continues to this day alongside his duties as LOM. John has been an exemplary ambassador for the RNLI in engaging the local community in the work of the charity, recently spearheading the redevelopment of an unused plot of land adjacent to the station which has been transformed into the Kirkcudbright Community Garden.
John said: ‘I feel honoured to receive this award for what I’ve done for the lifeboats and the Kirkcudbright community, but we do the job because of the love of it, not for the recognition.
‘I’m part of a great crew here – everybody gets on, it’s a good atmosphere and it runs well – and this award is as much a reflection of their dedication as it is mine.’
Outside of the RNLI, John is employed as the local school bus driver and during the pandemic he extended this role to deliver essential food supplies in the area.
RNLI Trustee Lord Mark Sedwill has been made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to British foreign policy, national security and HM Government. Lord Sedwill, former Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser, was elected to the RNLI Council in 2021 and appointed a Trustee in 2022.
Notes to editors
· More images are available to download here: https://source.rnli.org.uk/share/DA23F58E-0279-498D-B75C100EC4192B2F/
· For more information on how to volunteer for the RNLI, go to RNLI.org/support-us/volunteer
· To donate to the RNLI, go to RNLI.org/GoDonate
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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