Trevor Holland: A lifelong commitment to Skegness RNLI Lifeboat Station
Trevor Holland’s lifelong commitment to Skegness Lifeboat Station is a story that spans decades, an intergenerational family legacy, and an unwavering dedication to the sea.
His life has been intertwined with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), a relationship that began in the early 1960s and continues today.
Today, Trevor is one of the station’s Head Launchers, Launch Vehicle Drivers and Deputy Launching Authorities, roles that Trevor gives his all to, just like he has for all of his RNLI volunteer experience since the 1960s.
A Family Legacy
Trevor was born into a family deeply rooted in the lifeboat station's history. His father, Ken, and older brother, David, were involved in the Skegness Lifeboat. His grandfather, Bert Holland, was also a launcher at the station after returning from the First World War when horses were still used to launch the boat.
This rich family tradition was not just about being involved with the station; it was about understanding and respecting the sea. Trevor recalls his father, a respected figure in Skegness and former Mayor, advising him, ‘Never turn your back on the sea.’ This advice wasn't merely practical but metaphorical, reminding him to respect the sea's power and unpredictability, which has now become synonymous with the RNLI’s ‘Respect the Water’ campaign.
Discovering His Calling
Although Trevor had some sailing experience during his teenage years, his true calling didn't emerge until he worked as summer help for the beach ferries 'Viking', 'Canute', and 'Seagull'. Here, he learned valuable lessons about the sea and the beach from his mentor Percy Grunnill, a retired RNLI Skegness mechanic.
When he first joined the RNLI as a launcher, Trevor enthusiastically embraced his role. ‘I stuck with it because it suited me,’ he says. Over the years, he witnessed numerous changes at the station - personnel shifts, advancements in equipment, and even the relocation of the station itself. But what surprised him most was the transformation of the beach and the surrounding environment. ‘The sea is a dynamic force, always changing, always surprising you,’ he observes. From people getting trapped in mud to creeks forming parallel to the beach, the landscape they worked in was constantly evolving.
Trevor's service at the Skegness RNLI Lifeboat Station has seen him involved in numerous rescues and service launches, each unique and challenging in its own way. Reflecting on these experiences, he shares, ‘There have been many memorable services launches, whether it be on the inshore lifeboat (ILB) pulling children from inflatables, pulling out buried WW2 aircraft propellors, fire engines and downed airships.'
One service launch that stands out involved using the Talus to transport casualties from the all-weather lifeboat to the shore in rough weather. Trevor recalls: ‘Second Coxswain Ray Chapman brought the Lincolnshire Poacher very close into shore on a low tide; I drove the Talus within inches of the all-weather lifeboat and transferred some people from the boat onto the tractor. The all-weather lifeboat then went out again for more casualties, and we managed the same manoeuvre again, with further casualties brought ashore. Good teamwork and good tools.’
Although some of the principles of what is safe to do in the 21st century have changed, the principle of saving lives at sea has not.
Another notable rescue was a late-night call-out to an attempted suicide of a local person. Trevor and his team conducted a shoreline search and unexpectedly found them in the water. Despite the person heading seaward, the team successfully carried out the rescue. Trevor reflects, ‘True local knowledge and awareness of the situation proved key to the outcome.’
Balancing Art and Duty
In 1987, Trevor found an exceptional way to combine his artistic talent with his commitment to the RNLI. He became a professional artist painting Wargaming Model Soldiers, a job that allowed him to continue serving at the lifeboat station. Over time, he expanded his role from being a launcher to driving the Talus, eventually becoming the Head Launcher with the new Shannon Launch and Recovery System (SLRS).
Trevor's dedication to the RNLI is evident when discussing the charity: ‘There is much to be gained from joining the RNLI in whatever role you choose. All are equally valuable in the overall running of the station,’ he advises, ‘Every task, no matter how small or mundane it may seem, plays a crucial part in the operation.’
A Lasting Legacy
As he looks back on his journey, Trevor expresses one regret: he wishes he had recorded more stories and memories from the people at the station: ‘These are the voices of the station; they tell its history,’ he says. ‘These narratives', he believes, are 'valuable pieces of the lifeboat station's history and culture.’
The Holland family tradition lives on today alongside Trevor at Skegness RNLI Lifeboat Station because as well as a plaque outside the station with Trevor's father's name on it, his cousin Robert Holland kindly gifted the RNLI the funds to purchase a new inshore lifeboat, the aptly named The Holland Family now serves as the station's ILB saving lives along the Lincolnshire coastline.
Despite the changes, challenges, and sacrifices, Trevor Holland's commitment to Skegness RNLI Lifeboat Station remains unshaken. As the 200th anniversary of the formation of the RNLI approaches, he continues to serve with the same passion and dedication that has been a hallmark of his long-standing service.
His story inspires the station, reminding everyone of the importance of commitment, respect for nature, and the value of community.
Notes to editors
- The RNLI is the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
- Skegness RNLI is based on Tower Esplanade, Skegness. The lifeboat station was founded in 1825 and the volunteer crew use an inshore D class lifeboat The Holland Family and as well as an all-weather Shannon class lifeboat the Joel and April Grunnill.
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.
Learn more about the RNLI
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