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Five dedicated lifeboat volunteers have been honoured with medals of service at a celebration event in Padstow. Volunteer crew members Robert Norfolk (50 years), Kevin Briggs (30 years), Alan Hoskin (20 years) and Steve Nicholas (20 years) were all recognised, alongside shore crew and fundraiser Timothy Norfolk (30 years). Dr Sean O’Shea was also presented with a certificate of thanks for his service supporting the lifeboat crew. Collectively the five volunteers have amassed an incredible 150 years of volunteering.

The humble crew members have been part of some incredible rescue operations during their time at Padstow RNLI, receiving awards and official thanks for their bravery.

Robert Norfolk was on the crew involved in the huge search and rescue operation during the 1979 Fastnet Race. Robert recalls being at sea for a very long time. Thirteen RNLI lifeboats took part and spent 36 hours towing in or escorting at least 20 yachts and landing survivors. There was no GPS, no terrestrial navigation, and with many vessels with no radio communications, it meant locating those in trouble was extremely difficult.

Steve Nicholas helped rescue the yachtsman of the Fly in 2007 off Stepper Point. The 30-foot sloop that had fouled her anchor and was at additional risk due to the falling tide, gale force winds and rough sea conditions. It was decided the best option was to transfer the yachtsman to the lifeboat but during the lifeboats approach, the lively motion of the yacht led it to impact with the lifeboat. The force of the impact caused the yachtsman to fall overboard and though he remained secured by his safety harness, it took several minutes to recover him to the lifeboat. The conditions were too rough to cross the Doom Bar so the rescue helicopter returned to airlift him to shore.

Alan Hoskin was a crew member during the rescue of the Le Sillon in 2014. The French trawler which was in difficulty amongst waves described as 30ft plus and wind gusting to 60mph. The crew of the trawler had to leave the vessel and take to the water in their survival suits because the sea state was too bad for the rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose to lift them from the deck of their vessel. Five of the crew were picked up from the water by the Royal Navy rescue helicopter and the skipper was picked up by the RNLI lifeboat from Padstow. All six crew were brought ashore.

All volunteers being honoured shared the same overwhelming sense of family and camaraderie being part of Padstow RNLI and are proud to be providing a service to their community.

Dickon Berriman, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager shared that “It was a real honour for me to deliver such well earnt recognition to these team members in front of their peers.  Their skill and dedication is an inspiration to us all and is what makes the RNLI such an amazing charity.  I am particularly pleased they include members of the team who work hard behind the scenes, launching and recovering the lifeboat, providing medical support, fundraising and engaging with the public.  What a team!”

The volunteers were presented with their awards at an event in November 2021.

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Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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