RNLI fundraising stalwarts presented with medals for over 30 years of service
Husband and wife RNLI supporters Mick and Margaret French were recognised for their 37 years of fundraising for the charity when they visited Falmouth Lifeboat Station recently. The couple were presented with RNLI 30 year long service medals by Falmouth RNLI Coxswain Jonathon Blakeston.
Mick’s lifelong interest in lifeboats and the RNLI began while growing up in St Ives. He explained: ‘I spent school holidays down on the harbour, and when the lifeboat rockets went off, I was more often than not there to see the lifeboat being launched. On lifeboat days, I was always in the queue to have a trip on the lifeboat round the bay, twice if I was lucky. On flag days, I always gave something in exchange for the lifeboat pin, and always wore it.
I learnt of the St. Ives lifeboat disaster of 1939 at an early age, and I suppose when the Penlee Disaster of 1981 happened, it hit me, like thousands of others, and prompted me to do something to help.’
Mick’s RNLI connection was strengthened when he moved to Falmouth in 1972 and got to know Falmouth Lifeboat coxswain Toby West.
In time, Mick helped revive the defunct Falmouth Model Boat Club. He said: ‘Some members had model lifeboats, which roused my interest more. The club organised a gala day at Swanpool, where the RNLI put on an air sea rescue display, and our club did it in miniature with our models. From there I got more involved with fundraising, having joined the Camborne Pond hoppers club, which regularly did displays, always with RNLI collection boxes on our tables.
‘I started my collection of model lifeboats and displayed them at various events and fundraising began in earnest. We often booked out popular items from the RNLI shop, and sold them officially at the shows and events we attended. Eventually, we only carried the RNLI giveaways, and we then decided to donate monies raised, to the nearest station to where I was displaying. We travelled further away from home to do so, thus supporting Stations, such as Blackpool, Brighton, Weymouth, Lyme Regis, Burnham on Sea, Exmouth, Torbay, and others, as well as many of our local stations, Falmouth, Penlee, Sennen Cove, St. Ives, St. Agnes, Newquay, Bude, Fowey and Looe, attending over 20 events per year, and many miles.
‘This year, while attending the Tall Ships Event at Falmouth, we had a record amount of donations. Over each of the last ten years, we have had donations of between £3,000 to £5,000 per year.’
Last year, after 37 years of fundraising, Mick, having reached the age of 77 and Margaret not far behind, decided to retire but found they couldn't! Although they have greatly cut down on the distances travelled and the number of shows attended, they have still managed to collect just over £3,000 this year.
Mick concludes by saying: ‘None of this could have been possible without the input and support of my dear wife Margaret, who drives me to all these events, as I don't drive.’
On presenting the medals to Mick and Margaret, Falmouth RNLI Coxswain Jonathon Blakeston thanked Mick and Margaret for their support and said: ’37 years of fundraising is a fantastic achievement and I am pleased that they have both been recognised in this way for their service.’
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Simon Culliford, RNLI Volunteer Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer on 07971986978 or [email protected] or Emma Haines, RNLI Regional Media Officer [email protected] or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
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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