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Long service award for Hartlepool RNLI mechanic.

Lifeboats News Release

Hartlepool RNLI lifeboat station mechanic Garry Waugh has recently received his 30 years long service award.

RNLI/Tom Collins

Hartlepool RNLI station mechanic Garry Waugh pictured with his long service medal.

The 63 year old started his RNLI career as a volunteer at Crimdon lifeboat station and when the station closed he transferred to Hartlepool Lifeboat station where he became a helm for the inshore lifeboat and in later years became the station mechanic and second coxswain on the all weather lifeboat.

It was during a training course at Cowes on the Isle of Wight to be a helm for the inshore lifeboat that the boat he was on actually capsised. Garry said "Luckily no one was hurt so we just got back in and carried on with the training exercise but I'm very proud to be part of the RNLI organisation but most important of all is playing a part in saving lives at sea.

The technology, the boats and personal protection equipment within the RNLI over the years has changed dramatically and keeps evolving to help the volunteer crew whilst at sea.

It's also been good to see new crewmembers join and to mentor them along the way as they become proficient in the skills needed to be part of the lifeboat crew.

There are have been some random moments over the years for Garry as he recalls being called out to investigate suspicious objects in the sea which turned out to be tree trunks, inflatables or floating debris and not forgetting several dog rescues.

"The calls are usually made with good intent from a concerned members of the public but its always best to check". One memorable day was when a tremendous storm hit Hartlepool back in 2003 recalls Garry. "We had about 16 Mayday calls over the radio in a very short time as boats struggled to deal with the horrendous conditions."

"But looking back there is no better feeling or job satisfaction than saving someone's life or just being there to help someone in difficulty by towing them back to their berth. The sea is a very lonely place when you are out there on your own and in trouble".

Hartlepool RNLI coxswain Robbie Maiden said "Garry has had an incredible career with the RNLI and is a close personal friend. His contribution and devotion to the station is greatly appreciated and continues to be so.

He's best described as a 'mother hen' as he looks after everyone at the station with kit requirements, training and numerous other aspects of the day to day running of the Ferry Road boathouse and our all weather and inshore boats".

Garry hopes to retire in a couple of years time but he is sure the up and coming volunteer mechanics, inshore lifeboat helms and coxswains will do a good job thanks to the excellent training the RNLI provide.

RNLI/Tom Collins

Hartlepool RNLI station mechanic Garry Waugh pictured with his long service medal.

RNLI/Tom Collins

Hartlepool RNLI mechanic and second coxswain Garry Waugh at the helm of the inshore lifeboat 'BBC Radio Cleveland'.

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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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.