RNLI volunteers recognised in new year honours

Walmer station. ON 1024 Rother class, 37-32 The Hampshire Rose. Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie meeting Cox. and lifeboatcrew. Left to right Head Launcher Les Coe and crew Denis Brophy and Paul Johnson. Denis Brophy (second from right) meets Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Robert Runcie. CREDIT BASIL KIDD

Five RNLI volunteers are among those who have been recognised in the new year honours list for their contributions to the charity and for raising awareness of drowning prevention.

“In 2022, the RNLI saw a welcome return to volunteer recognition events following the pandemic, with hundreds being recognised for long service and excellence in volunteering awards,” says RNLI chief executive, Mark Dowie. “These six individuals represent the icing on the cake as we commemorate the contribution all our people have made in another busy year for our frontline services.

“I have found you can never make assumptions about the people you meet in all roles within the RNLI; they all have fascinating back-stories, and I often leave a visit feeling profoundly humbled. The stories behind these six are no exception, epitomising the RNLI’s values in all they do to save lives at sea. They richly deserve this national recognition – my congratulations to them all.”

During 55 years of unbroken voluntary service, Denis Brophy has undertaken a wide range of roles at Walmer Lifeboat Station, including crew, coxswain, deputy launching authority and lifeboat operations manager, a position he has held since 2001.

In this time, Walmer Lifeboat Station has been involved in 1,257 launches, aided 1,429 people and saved 313 lives. Now, in recognition of his years of supportive and diplomatic leadership, he has been awarded an MBE.

Also in receipt of an MBE is Dupre Strutt, mechanic at RNLI Kirkwall Lifeboat Station and retired area lifesaving manager for Scotland.

Part of the fabric of Kirkwall Lifeboat Station, Strutt followed in his father’s footsteps in joining the lifeboat, having grown up in the station. Since joining in 1983, Strutt has given 39 years of service to the RNLI, in which time he has been directly involved in over 300 rescues, saving over 60 lives.

Edwin ‘Ted’ Luckin joined the RNLI in 1960 when he was invited to join Cromer lifeboat as tractor driver and mechanic. He has since held wide-ranging roles at the station including being appointed senior helm of the station’s new inshore lifeboat in 1965, taking part in more than 70 shouts, in which he is credited with saving many lives.

Portrait of former Cromer volunteer Ted Luckin who volunteered at the lifeboat station for over six decades. Pictured at his home at the age of 93 wearing his service medals. Shot suring filming for 200 voices project.
Portrait of former Cromer volunteer Ted Luckin who volunteered at the lifeboat station for over six decades. Photo courtesy of Credit RNLI/Nathan Williams

Now 93 years old, having given 62 years of dedicated service to the RNLI, he has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM). He retired from operational duty on the lifeboats in 2000 but remained as boathouse manager until he retired in September 2022 when he had a hip replacement, but plans to be back in the station before long.

Cromer. D Lifeboat on beach. Two lifeboat crewmen carrying a man with another supporting him from behind. Crew left to right Ted Luckin (helmsman), Eric Love and Chris Craske.
Ted Luckin (far left) and lifeboat crewmen carrying a man with another supporting him from behind. Photo courtesy of RNLI

“It came as a bombshell when I got the letter – I was very surprised and very pleased to accept the honour,” says Luckin.

“There’s not many of us who’ve been able to be with the RNLI for as long as I have, and I feel proud for what I’ve been able to do. I’ve enjoyed 60 years on the station and I’ve had some lovely times.”

Andrea Corrie
Andrea Corrie

Following the tragic loss of her son, James, in 2005, Andrea Corrie has campaigned tirelessly for improvements in water safety and in support of water safety education.

Now, in recognition of the work she has done to help prevent others from facing the grief she has, she has been awarded a BEM (British Empire Medal).

Since 2014, she has volunteered her time and shared her story to support the RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign, making a significant contribution to fundraising, awareness and training within the organisation.

Rosalie Whitlock
Rosalie Whitlock

Also awarded a BEM is the fundraising secretary at Penlee Lifeboat Station, Rosalie Whitlock. The RNLI says Whitlock has been an integral part of the RNLI lifesaving community in Penlee, Mousehole and Newlyn since joining as a fundraiser in 1970 with a collection box on the main street of Penzance.

She then began selling souvenirs from her own home before setting up the RNLI’s first shop in Penzance, and then quickly became fundraising secretary at Penlee, a position she has held for 47 years. Since she joined, the Penlee Fundraising Branch is credited with raising nearly £2 million through souvenir and shop sales and local events.

Whitlock played a pivotal role during the Penlee Lifeboat Disaster when, in December 1981, all eight RNLI crew on the Solomon Browne tragically lost their lives in an attempt to save the crew onboard the Union Star. She organised a team of fundraisers who worked day and night for several weeks taking calls and dealing with the sacks of mail and donations that were arriving daily.

She says: “My heart will always be with Penlee, having been through those dark times of the disaster, being there in the aftermath and then slowly helping to build the station up again to what we are today has been a great privilege.”

William 'John' Collins
William ‘John’ Collins

Volunteer mechanic and lifeboat operations manager (LOM) at Kirkcudbright Lifeboat Station, William ‘John’ Collins, has been awarded a BEM for his dedication to the RNLI and the community in the town.

He joined the station in 1991 as a mechanic, a role which he continues to this day alongside his duties as LOM.

RNLI Trustee Lord Mark Sedwill has been made a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to British foreign policy, national security and HM Government. Lord Sedwill, former Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser, was elected to the RNLI Council in 2021 and appointed a Trustee in 2022.

Joining the RNLI volunteers being recognised in this year’s honours is a retiring Coastguard Rescue Officer who will be ‘missed terribly’ after more than 40 years of service.

Martin Rayner
Martin Rayner

Martin Rayner, who signed up as an Auxiliary Coastguard on 17 April, 1980, went on to play a key role in more than 2,000 rescues on the Isle of Wight, quickly becoming a vital part of the service and an inspiration to others.

December 31 2022 was Rayner’s final day with HM Coastguard, but his service will not be forgotten, ending with the bestowal of a British Empire Medal (BEM).

“I’m really humbled. My father was in the service before me so between us we have been a part of the Coastguard family for around 70 years,” he says.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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