Gavin McGuinness says farewell and Fletch says Congratulations!
A significant birthday deserves a celebration and for one of Poole Lifeboats prolific crew members it was also tinged with sadness as senior Helm Gavin McGuinness stood down from the crew after 25 years and oh boy, he packed those 25 years with over a 1000 ‘shouts’.
Gavin was from an army family, his parents moving around but his nan lived in Poole and Gavin made his home in Poole in the late 1980’s becoming a fisherman.
He joined the crew at Poole as a volunteer in 1993, he wanted to join earlier when a friend was lost at sea, but as he was at sea himself so much, the Coxswain at the time ‘Frank Ide’ told him to come back when he had settled down and had gained some experience and put some weight on.
Gavin left the deep sea boats and joined the day boats and successfully reapplied, becoming Helm in May 1995 and has consistently been one of the busiest crew at the station.
He never put the weight on however, but became a poster boy for the RNLI and was actually the opposite of air brushed , his slightness never hindered him and he has been one of the stalwarts of the station for quite some time.
Fellow crewman Jonathan Clark, who has served alongside Gavin all these years said;
‘Its an end of an era and It will be strange without Gavin alongside on the crew list, we have been through an awful lot together some good and some not so good times. I very much respect his commitment and dedication and for all the hours literally years he has spent with the pager at his side on duty. You think of all the experiences and the differences that Gav has made and you think about all the rescues, the outcomes. I will always remember the Chain ferry rescue in 2001, where Gav was Helm and right in the thick of the rescue, he deservedly received a framed Chairman’s letter of thanks from the institute. I wish him well and thank him for being there alongside, I would also like to thank his wife Jane and Marieanne for their support over the years’.
Gavin helped with many visits at the station,he was often called upon to help with the French exchange students as he spoke French, which amused fellow crewmembers as he often said that he did not like anything French.
In his spare time Gav is an avid AFCB fan and at the time he joined the crew the Cherries had moved into Divison 2 due to the inauguration of the Premier League and Hartlepool born forward, Steve Fletcher joined, He still holds the club record for appearances and is a legend, a bit similar to Gavin, so it was quite fitting that Steve sent a video message of congratulation to Gav on his retirement at the station,
Gavin was clearly touched by this message, which he received at a farewell breakfast held on the Quay with crew past and present, Gav responded with some words of his own, reflecting on being a member of the Poole crew.
‘We all join for our own reasons, the reason we stay is the camaraderie which is the heart of the station and you need to keep the camaraderie, keep the heart to make it work,
He ended with;
Keep on doing what you’re doing and keep the waters safe’,
The People of Poole and water users are indebted to likes of you Gavin for their diligent service, the station wish him well and hope that he will enjoy his life without the pager and that he takes in what he achieved , being an integral part of Poole Lifeboat station as one of the busiest accomplished volunteer helms.