Whitby RNLI pay tribute to former Chaplain Reverend Canon David Smith.

Lifeboats News Release

The lifeboat station's flag has been at half mast in memory of Mr Smith.

RNLI/Ceri Oakes

Reverend Canon David Smith (left) being presented with his certificate of service in 2016 from former Coxswain Mike Russel.

Canon David Smith became the Chaplain at Whitby RNLI lifeboat chaplain in 2007 after he took over from Father Terry Leathley.

However his first encounter with the crew was when he stepped into help at the station during a call out.

Back in 2007 a tragedy was unfolding in Whitby after a boat capsized in stormy conditions and all three on board drowned.

Mr Smith happened to be passing the station that day and went inside to offer his assistance.

He stayed all day making cups of tea for those involved, the crew who had responded to the incident, retrieving the casualties from the water, and police conducting interviews. He brought a calm presence to what was a difficult day for the volunteers.

No one had met him before as he had just taken on the role of Rector of Whitby, but Whitby’s Coxswain Howard Fields said he was part of the furniture after that.

‘He came back the next day, and then after that we saw him regularly, he was our chaplain and then later press officer. David had a knack of always being in the right place at the right time and always knowing what to say. He was very well respected amongst the crew and has been a friend to them over the years, providing emotional support after particularly difficult call outs.

He was a great listener, calming but he also had a sense of fun too, one look from him and you knew what he was thinking.’

Mr Smith supported the crew through good times and bad, christening many of the crew's children aboard the lifeboat, conducting funerals and weddings, and always supporting them.

Mr SMith's funeral service will take place on Friday 13 May in St Mary Magdalene Church, Yarm at 1pm prior to cremation in the chapel of St Hilda, Teesside Crematorium at 2.15pm. Family and friends please meet at the churches. Family flowers only please. Donations in lieu if so desired to Kidney Research UK and RNLI Whitby Lifeboat.

For more information contact Lifeboat Press Officer Ceri Oakes on 07813359428 or at [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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