End of an era for Blackpool RNLI volunteers

Lifeboats News Release

Two members of the same family are about to mark the end of an era, as they stand down from volunteering for Blackpool RNLI. Between them father and son Keith and Jonathan (Johno) Horrocks have spent over 70 years saving lives at Blackpool.

Keith and Johno Horrocks in RNLI kit

RNLI/Blackpool

Keith and Johno Horrocks

Keith Horrocks MBE is retiring after over 53 years of voluntary service, he became an RNLI volunteer in 1969 at the age of 15. Keith joined the RNLI as shorecrew and then crew on the Liverpool class All Weather Lifeboat, he was also helm on the D class Inshore Lifeboat. After the Liverpool class All Weather Lifeboat was withdrawn, and replaced by an Atlantic Inshore Lifeboat, in 1975 Keith became one of the Atlantic helms.

After retiring from the crew in 1998, Keith continued to volunteer at the lifeboat station as the Inshore Lifeboat mechanic, he also started working for the RNLI as Station Support Manager, promoting visitor engagement in larger RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland. Keith became the volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Blackpool in 2013.

During his 53 years at the lifeboat station Keith has been involved in countless rescues and has saved many lives. He has been recognised several times for his seamanship, courage and gallantry including being awarded an RNLI bronze medal for gallantry in January 1988 for a service, carried out in horrendous conditions. Keith was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to the RNLI in 1999.

Keith’s son, Johno joined him as a RNLI volunteer in 2005 when he volunteered as a crewmember at the age of 17. Like his dad, Johno became a helm of the D class Inshore Lifeboat and has been recognised for his lifesaving efforts; he received an RNLI letter of thanks for his part in a rescue in 2015.

Johno and his family recently moved out of Blackpool, and he is therefore no longer able to respond to call outs. Johno will step down from his RNLI volunteer role at the end of March, ending an extraordinary family tradition of lifesaving in Blackpool that stretches back more than 150 years.

Johno said, ‘I recently moved to Thornton Cleveleys with my partner, and we’ve had a baby so it isn’t possible for me to dedicate the time and effort to the RNLI that I want to and I am therefore stepping aside. I’ve had a great 17 years with all at the station. I’ve made some great friends and shared some experiences I will never ever forget.’

Keith said, ‘the RNLI has been a part of my life since I was a teenager, I have met some incredible and dedicated people in both my volunteer roles and working career with the RNLI and I have been part of some incredible crews over the years. I have seen the highs and lows of being a part of the team at Blackpool with memories that will never leave me. It has been one hell of a ride but now it is time to get off and let the younger crew carry on the important job of saving lives at sea off the Fylde coast.’

Ian Butter, Volunteer Deputy Launching Authority, said ‘With over 50 years of dedicated and unbroken service to saving lives at sea in Blackpool, it is difficult to express just how much Keith’s departure will be felt by us all.

The level of expertise and depth of knowledge he has imparted over the years has resulted in a succession of highly competent and capable crew members, who now pass on that same wisdom to the new generation. This is a legacy Keith can be truly proud of.

Like father like son, Johno has been a committed and capable lifeboat crewmember using his skills to save lives on many occasions. We will miss them at the boathouse and wish them both the very best for the future.

We must also express our huge thanks to Keith’s wife Lynda, who has provided consistent and unfailing support over the years for both husband and son. It takes a special kind of person to watch and wait and tolerate the uncertainties and inconveniences of a lifeboat life.’

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Esther Lowe Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, RNLI Blackpool telephone 01253 620424 or email [email protected]

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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