Troon RNLI lifeboat Coxswain Joe Millar retires
A well-known face in Troon and throughout the RNLI Joe Millar, the full-time coxswain at Troon RNLI lifeboat station, retired yesterday after 32 years of service to the RNLI.
Wednesday 16 August 2023 was his last operational day for the charity that saves lives at sea as he switched off handed in his RNLI pager to enjoy his well-earned retirement. Since he started as a volunteer at Troon RNLI in 1991, Joe has been on close to 850 callouts, and has been involved in the rescue of 64 lives while assisting a further 554 people.
Joe began volunteering at the lifeboat station as a crewmember while working fulltime in the family business alongside his dad, carrying out removals in Troon. After speaking to one of the existing crew and attending the next training night he saw joining the RNLI as an opportunity to give something back to the community.
Once he obtained his pager, Joe became a regular on callouts, while also taking part in station fundraising events and regularly speaking to numerous groups from Ayrshire and beyond that visited the station about the work of the RNLI.
Following a rescue in May 1992, Joe was part of the crew, under the leadership of retired Coxswain Ian Johnson, that received a collective Framed Letter of Thanks in recognition of teamwork when the RNLI Arun class all-weather lifeboat City of Glasgow III rescued the four crew from the yacht Anat and saved the boat after they suffered steering and engine failure in winds gusting to gale force and rough seas three miles east of Holy Isle.
After a few years serving as a crewmember, Joe progressed to assistant mechanic on the station’s Arun class lifeboat in 1994 taking charge of the machinery on callouts and training exercises while also becoming a familiar reassuring voice on the lifeboats VHF radios communicating with Clyde Coastguard and casualties.
Over the years Joe progressed from assistant mechanic to second mechanic in 2000 and became the station mechanic in 2002. Joe also later became the station’s training coordinator, responsible for ensuring the successful completion of training for the volunteer crew, in such things as navigation, radar, deck work and casualty care.
2002 also saw Joe become the station’s full time Coxswain, taking over from Ian Johnson, and in 2004 started a new chapter for the station as the Trent class all-lifeboat RNLB Jim Moffat was placed on service along with D class inshore lifeboat Colin Martin.
In 2015, following a joint callout between Troon and Girvan RNLI lifeboats, a Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was presented to Joe and Girvan lifeboat’s Second Coxswain, Gary McGarvie, following a callout in January 2015 when a 140-tonne trawler had fouled its propeller off Turnberry in rapidly deteriorating weather conditions. The impressive teamwork of Joe and Gary saved four people from a perilous situation, while also ensuring their own crews stayed safe.
Over the years, Joe has often missed family events and celebrations in order to assist those in difficulty along the Ayrshire coast. Supported over the years by his wife Sarah and their two children, Joe is now hoping for some more family time in his retirement.
Speaking about this Joe said 'I will miss the callouts and the crew at Troon RNLI, but I am going to enjoy the freedom of not having to carry a pager about 24/7. I’ll be able to spend more time with my family and not worry about how far I’m away from the lifeboat station or where I’ve parked the car.’
When asked what his most memorable call out was Joe said, ‘With over 800 callouts since I started, from towing in fishing vessels, to all night searches and aircraft emergencies, there have been far too many to mention, both the good and bad, but some do stick in your mind. A few years ago, on a wet and windy morning the pagers went after reports that a life raft had been seen off the coast towards Ayr. Fearing the worst, that a fishing vessel may have sunk, we launched to scene to begin a search. After a very tense passage to the scene, much to our relief, we instead found a deflated bright orange kids bouncy castle.’
Recalling his most notable callout Joe said, ‘Another callout that I will always remember was in 2015 to the trawler in difficulty and following this the presentation when Gary and myself received our Thanks on Vellum from the RNLI. The teamwork of the two volunteer crews from Troon and Girvan displayed in difficult conditions to bring the vessel safely back to Troon just signified to me why I joined the crew and the RNLI.’
Troon RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Jim Redmond said, 'Since he began volunteering with the RNLI in 1991, Joe has been dedicated to the lifeboat service in Troon and has shown this through his commitment to the station. Joe has been an essential part of the crew at Troon, it has been enjoyable to work alongside someone so dedicated and professional for the last 6 years. On behalf of everyone at Troon lifeboat station I would like to wish him well on his retirement.’
RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager Bob McMaster added, ‘Having given over 30 years’ service to the RNLI, Joe must be commended on his commitment and dedication to life-saving operations within the Troon and further afield area.
‘Joe has always carried out his duties as Coxswain in a very professional and courteous manner, being supportive to the local crew and a mentor to new Coxswains, truly demonstrating and upholding the RNLI values.
‘It has been a pleasure to work with Joe for many years, and he will be sorely missed within the organisation and a heartfelt thank you must be expressed to Joe and his family for his commitment and dedication from all within the wider RNLI community and I am sure that all wish Joe and his family a very, very happy retirement.’
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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