Pwllheli RNLI volunteer lifeboat operations manager retires after 19 years

Lifeboats News Release

Pwllheli RNLI volunteer Cliff Thomas, is stepping down from his role as the station's lifeboat operations manager but will continue to volunteer for the charity as a deputy launching authority.

Cliff Thomas standing next to Pwllheli's lifeboat 'Smith Brothers' inside Pwllheli's new lifeboat station

RNLI Pwllheli

Retiring LOM Cliff Thomas and Pwllheli's new Shannon lifeboat 'Smith Brothers'

Cliff has been a volunteer at RNLI Pwllheli for nearly 50 years. He joined in 1975 as an inshore lifeboat crew at the age of 21 becoming an emergency mechanic on the all-weather lifeboat in 1981.

He says: ‘When I first joined the charity, all the crew lived and worked in the town so they were always nearby. Now many of the crew work out of town so we need more crew to cover availability. If you are thinking of joining the RNLI just do it - there is a great deal of satisfaction. It’s a fantastic feeling to know you have made a difference to someone’s life.’

After nearly 30 years saving lives at sea, Cliff retired from boat crew in 2003 but not the RNLI when he volunteered as honorary secretary – a role which developed into the volunteer lifeboat operations manager (LOM). Cliff has seen many changes over the years including bigger, faster lifeboats.

'In 1979 the Oakley Class lifeboat was open and wooden and had two 35 horsepower engines with a maximum speed of eight knots. The old boat took two hours to get to Bardsey Island. Now, our state-of-the-art Shannon lifeboat is powered by two 650 horsepower engines with a speed in excess of 25 knots and we can get to Bardsey in half an hour.'

Cliff explains: ‘As LOM, when the pager goes, I phone the coastguard who brief me on the nature of the emergency. I decide which assets to deploy and then page the crew to let them know which lifeboats will be launching. I also spend a lot of time meeting the public at the lifeboat station. But, I am not retiring from the RNLI and I will continue to volunteer as a deputy launching authority.’

RNLI Pwllheli’s new lifeboat operations manager, Andy Vowell, says: ‘It is a great honour for me to be taking over the position of lifeboat operations manager at Pwllheli Lifeboat Station. I am really looking forward to working with all at Pwllheli and being part of a professional team that is ready to assist and save lives at sea 24 hours a day 365 days a year.’

Notes to editor

Attached are photos of:

  1. Cliff Thomas at RNLI Pwllheli Lifeboat station. Credit: RNLI Pwllheli

RNLI media contact

For more information contact Elizabeth Perry, RNLI Pwllheli Lifeboat Press Officer on 07806 800627 or email [email protected] Alternatively contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email [email protected]

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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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