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Two St Bees RNLI volunteers celebrate 40 years' service

Lifeboats News Release

Saturday 9 March marked forty years of volunteering for St Bees RNLI Helms Alastair Graham and Ian Wrigley. Their anniversary came just five days after Ian and Alastair attended the RNLI's 200th anniversary at Westminster Abbey.

Ian and Alastair smiling outside Westminster Abbey

RNLI/Colin Wadey

Outside Westminster Abbey

Although Alastair and Ian both officially started on 9 March 1984, back then they would have been attending training sessions at the lifeboat station for up to a year on probation before being allowed to sign up.

Ian’s father Jim was on the early lifeboat and his mum Christine has spent many years fundraising with the St Bees RNLI Guild. Ian was therefore keen to follow their example and volunteer for the RNLI.

Alastair like Ian grew up in St Bees and knew many of the lifeboat crew before joining.

In 1993 Alastair was accorded the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum for his outstanding skill and courage. As Helm he was in charge of the lifeboat that rescued two crew from a fishing vessel stranded on an isolated outcrop of rocks near Fleswick Bay in a Force six strong breeze and breaking seas.

Inspired by his dad, Alastair’s son Simon later joined the crew.

Both Alastair and Ian have been more than just Helms. They have been involved with new recruits showing them the ropes and keeping them safe during their first few trips at sea. Alastair has used his occupational skills to help with a lot of the first aid training.

Ian and Alastair are also trained launch vehicle drivers. This means they are qualified to drive the specially designed tractor deep into the Irish Sea to launch the lifeboat.

Dick Beddows, St Bees RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: ‘It has been an honour to volunteer alongside Alastair and Ian. Their contribution to St Bees RNLI over the last forty years is an example and inspiration to all our volunteers. Like the rest of our crew, I hope to see them at our station for many years to come.'

RNLI Media contacts

For more information, please contact Colin Wadey, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer: [email protected]

Alastair training at the chart table

RNLI/Colin Wadey

Early training session
Alastair in front of the lifeboat after receiving his 30 year medal

RNLI/Colin Wadey

Alastair after receiving his 30 year medal
Ian in front of the lifeboat after receiving his 30 year medal

RNLI/Colin Wadey

Ian after receiving his 30 year medal

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

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.