44 years of voluntary service at Wells RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Fred Whitaker is a valued volunteer crew member of RNLI Wells lifeboat and is also the Deputy Harbour master at the Port of Wells. He joined the RNLI in 1978 and has given 44 years voluntary service and continues to be an all-weather lifeboat crew member to this day.

Fred Whitaker at changing of flag ceremony

RNLI/Justine Sykes

Fred Whitaker

As a youngster Fred helped on the beach with Wells lifeguards as he was a good swimmer. He would hear the maroons going off to call for the lifeboats to attend a shout, and Fred would run along the beach to see if he could do anything to help.

Graham Walker was Helmsman on the inshore lifeboat at that time and he asked Fred if he would be interested in being a member of the crew. Before long Fred was made part of the crew on both lifeboats. During his time he became senior helm on the inshore lifeboat and was also one of the emergency mechanics on the all-weather lifeboat.

Fred is now a crew member on the RNLB Duke of Edinburgh and was one of the volunteer crew that made the final voyage to bring the new Shannon class lifeboat back to Wells. Fred also represented Wells-next-sea and RNLI at the Lord Mayors show in London along side crew member Gary Yarham, they both took part in the parade showcasing ‘Quay workers’ from the community of Wells.

Fred said: ‘When I was chosen to be one of crew to bring the Duke of Edinburgh back into Wells it was the proudest day of my life.’

Fred recalls many of the shouts, such as when he was helmsman on the inshore lifeboat when they launched after a catamaran along with the all-weather lifeboat. They had four crew members onboard and had to put one of the crew onto the catamaran to attach a tow line.

The all-weather lifeboat started to tow the catamaran in very rough sea conditions. As the inshore was standing off, a big wave hit them and washed Fred and another crew member out of the lifeboat. They were swimming in challenging conditions for a few seconds before the crew member who had managed to stay on board, was able to rescue them.

Fred said with a smile: 'Being part of Wells RNLI makes me very proud, I have now been crew on three all-weather lifeboats at Wells. All in all I have enjoyed most of my time as a volunteer on the lifeboats.’

RNLI Media contacts

For more information please contact Jessica Curtis, volunteer Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer: [email protected]

Arrival of Duke of Edinburgh

Leanne McColm

Proud moments

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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