Geoff Barfoot is known to many as his alter ego ‘WE Boone’ from Poole’s high street, the Aladdin’s cave of all things hardware, where time has stood still, the place to go for your fork handles, letter O’s, nails, tea pots to fishing tackle, whatever you need for whatever job, endless stock is stashed away and Geoff knows exactly where everything is, alongside running his emporium, Geoff has been a stalwart at Poole Lifeboat station, he recently stood down after clocking up 30 years of volunteering.
Back in 1987 when Margaret Thatcher became the longest serving prime minster, Geoff joined the lifeboat crew which was then based down at Salterns Marina; he was an active crew member on the ‘Sam & Iris Coles’ which was Poole’s Boston Whaler and ‘Inner Wheel’ the Brede class lifeboat.
Within the station, Geoff was known as many guises like the quartermaster or ‘Arkwright’ keeping the station supplied whether it be light bulbs, locks or the most important brasso! He provided entertainment as the music man, playing his guitar for a sing along at crew socials, he would also keep the crew well fed, be it cooking bacon sandwiches on his boat whilst waiting for Father Christmas to arrive on the Quay or whipping up his legendary paella to sustain the crew during the busy summer months. He was also the treasurer in the early days collecting the pennies in various recycled tobacco tins.
In later years applying his experience as a crew member and as a local boat owner, Geoff became a Deputy Launch authority (DLA) these are the stations ‘elder statesmen’. The DLA’s are the first point of call for the coastguard when the lifeboats are needed, and the initial request comes in, the decision as to which lifeboat is launched ultimately lies with the (DLA), who sets the pagers off, to alert the volunteer crew that there is a ’Shout’, the DLA’s also support the Lifeboat Operation Manager.
Poole Lifeboat station longest serving volunteer Jonathan Clark spoke about Geoff;
‘We started out at Salterns together and have seen a lot of changes, moving the lifeboat station, working on various lifeboats and some of our kit that we wore is now on display in the Old lifeboat museum. Geoff is one of the good guys, he has been very supportive on and off the water, always doing lots of stuff in the background, keeping the moral going and I would like to thank him personally for all that we have shared and all that he has done for Poole Lifeboat over the past thirty years, though I am certain that he will not miss the phone calls from the coastguard in the middle of the night ’.