Anne and Andy, both long serving volunteers at Poole Lifeboat Station, recently hung their ‘wellies up’ and stood down from being active crew members when the all-weather lifeboat the City of Sheffield departed in November.
At the Poole Lifeboat Station dinner (Saturday 28 January) a special presentation was made to mark their retirement from the operational side and they were each presented with a Framed Certificate of Service recording their years of service, acknowledging all their commitment and dedication to the station.
In 2011, Andy was awarded his 20 years Long Service Medal. He was described then as one of the lynchpins at the station and if you ask any of the crew for words to describe him now they will say: ‘Knowledgeable, dependable, a skilful seaman, modest and RNLI through and through, the go-to man when there was anything ‘not right’ with the boat.’ And, depending on what colour overalls he is wearing, this will indicate how serious the problem is. He shares his knowledge with other crew and trainees, plus he has a calm steely demeanour at the wheel, which has given other crew solace and support on many a shout.
Andy coordinated the departure of the City of Sheffield – it was and for some still is a very raw emotive time. Andy’s sensitivity in setting the tone and organising the trip to meet up with fellow crew members at Weymouth was very much appreciated by the crew who mutually shared it.
Andy was presented with a special Framed Certificate of Service acknowledging his commitment and dedication to the station. Incredibly, during this time from 1990 his certificate catalogues 8 roles, of which as full-time station Mechanic he undertook from 1998 to 2004.
The certificate states: ‘During his service at Poole the lifeboats rescued 301 lives from shipwreck. The Council are glad to place on record this testimony to his personal participation in the Lifeboat Service.’
End of an era but Andy keeps popping in to the station, so hopefully there may be another role to add to the list in the not too distant future.
Anne has been a stalwart at the station, another long-serving volunteer. In 2001 in recognition of her bravery, Anne received a Framed Letter of Thanks for the part she played in a memorable rescue, when the XOD class 18ft yachts from Parkstone Yacht Club were caught by a strong ebb tide and were pinned against the side of the chain ferry and one disintegrated with a lady being swept away in the strong tide under the ferry.
Not only operational, Anne has been integral in the day-to-day promoting of the station. Anne has been the webmaster, the ‘wordsmith’ and proofreading has been a real asset in supporting the communication team. This is not surprising as when she joined Poole Lifeboat station Anne had been working in education, and she will agree that her time at the station over the past 21 years has been an education. As she once said: ’Every day out on the lifeboat is a school day.’ Every launch provided an experience with different conditions and scenarios, sharing unique moments, sunrises and sunsets, highs and lows.
As well as English, Anne is also good at maths as she shared her stats for 21 years – nearly 500 launches, helping to rescue 490 people and saving 17 lives.
After receiving her certificate Anne poignantly said: ‘We have made it possible for families to be together and see special moments in their lives and that is something that I am very proud of. Life-changing moments – I have held someone’s life in my hand.’
Anne also shared some of her other proudest moments, the pinnacle being the 150th Poole Lifeboat Station exhibition that charted the history and heritage of the station. Anne put this together with another volunteer crewman Chris Speers in their own time, and it ran through the summer of 2015 at Poole Museum, attracting record numbers of visitors. Surprisingly, the museum had never had anything RNLI-related on show before in exhibition terms, so it was a great achievement to get it approved and organised.
The exhibition told the story of Poole Lifeboat Station through the 150 years of its history, and included an array of artefacts, documents and other information. Recounting the story of Poole Lifeboat Station will be one of Anne’s legacies, a story that she is very much a part of.
Anne said: ‘I have many very happy memories of my time at the station and am proud that I was able to play just a small part in its significant 150-year history.’