Tommy calls it a day at last

Station Officer Ryan Douglas, Tommy Douglas and Sector Manager Paul Duffy.
Station Officer Ryan Douglas, Tommy Douglas and Sector Manager Paul Duffy.

A RETIREMENT party was held for a long-serving volunteer coastguard who has stood down after 42 years’ service.

On Saturday, HM Coastguard Holy Island held the party for Tommy Douglas at the Manor House Hotel on Holy Island.

The 69-year-old joined the Holy Island lifeboat at the age of 16, an island tradition for fishing families.

The Coastguard team was manned mainly by people who worked the land, which often led to great competition between the lifeboat and Coastguard.

Tommy quickly rose through the ranks of the lifeboat, becoming second lifeboat coxswain at the extremely young age of 26.

In 1968 Holy Island lost her ifeboat during a series of RNLI closures.

A few months later, in January, 1969, Tommy joined the Coastguard as an auxiliary.

He has attended hundreds of rescues in his 42 years’ service.

The range of incidents has been huge, as he has found himself on everything from missing people searches to ships ashore, people trapped in cars on the Causeway to fires on the island.

Probably the most memorable rescue was when he helped save two men from drowning in Holy Island harbour.

Station officer Ryan Douglas said: “His place in the Holy Island team shall never be filled as none can match his knowledge and understanding of Holy Island.

“He shall be hugely missed by the whole of the Holy Island Coastguard team. Tommy said on Saturday evening that he had enjoyed his time in the Coastguard and that he shall miss it very much so as it has played a huge part in his life.

“But that he was extremely happy that he has was part of the only emergency service on Holy Island and that he has been able to provide a service to the islanders and the thousands of tourists that visit Holy Island every year.”

Tommy was presented with a letter from the chief coastguard Rod Johnson and a pair of cuff-links.

Brian Patterson, who will soon be going to meet the Queen to be awarded his MBE, was also presented with his long-service rosettes on Saturday. Neil Anderson and Ian Mills were presented with certificates for their dedicated service to the Coastguard as they both had to leave this year due to work commitments.