Special award for Berwick man who has given nearly 50 years' service to the RNLI
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He was presented with a 40-year long-service medal by lifeboat operations manager Kevin Knox – although he has actually been part of the station team for 47 years.
Michael previously served on both the inshore and offshore lifeboats, rising through the ranks to the position of Second Coxswain on Berwick’s old Mersey lifeboat.
He is currently part of the RNLI station management team and is deputy launching authority, (DLA), who provides leadership in the absence of the lifeboat operations manager.
When someone calls 999 and asks for the HM Coastguard, the Coastguard request assistance from the relevant lifeboat station. It is then the duty of either the lifeboat operations manager or the DLA to authorise the correct lifeboat to deal with the rescue.
Michael said: “I feel so proud to receive a 40 year medal on behalf of myself and family from the RNLI.
“I joined Berwick lifeboat station after being a lifeguard with the Royal National Lifesaving Society as I thought it was a possible step forward.
"On joining the crew I first served on the D Class lifeboat,” he recalled. “The D Class lifeboat was stored at the local yacht club’s yard in those days and only operated in the summer months.”
In 1976 the D-Class lifeboat and the Watson offshore vessel were both withdrawn and replaced by an Atlantic 21 lifeboat, this giving 24 hour cover. The Atlantic 21 lifeboat was slipway launched on a trailer from the lifeboat station.
“I continued to crew the Atlantic 21 as a helmsman and was appointed second coxswain of the Mersey-class lifeboat, the, Joy and Charles Beeby, when she arrived in 1993,” said Michael.
He stepped down from boat crew duty in 2000, returning to the lifeboat station as a DLA and has held this post ever since.
He has also received two letters of commendation for service calls, a long service badge for 22 years, a certificate of service for 26 years and a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee medal.
Michael said: “The RNLI lifeboat service has given me many enjoyable hours as a volunteer, although not all the service calls have had a good outcome.
“One of my most memorable occasions was to rescue three crew from the fishing vessel White Heather V, on April 19, 1983 with the Atlantic 21 lifeboat. The vessel hit the sand on the bar entering Berwick harbour at Spittal Point and was pounded by a heavy sea with waves breaking right over her at times.
“When attending rescues you never know what the outcome will entail. This one was very scary, but at the time you don’t think about it as your adrenaline kicks in.”
Kevin added: “Michael took me out on my very first lifeboat trip and my very first shout, on our old Mersey lifeboat and has been a huge help in not just training myself but so many other crew members.
“It was a very proud moment for me to be able to present Michael his 40 years service medal and thanks also go to his wife Brenda and family who have stood by and supported Michael in his lifetime of continuous commitment to Berwick RNLI.”