RNLI members on the Isle of Wight were reminded at the annual meeting of the local board, held at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, that this was a special year, being the board's 150th annual meeting.
To mark this milestone there was a special exhibition tracing the history of the institution on the Island. The centre-piece was the journal of the board's honorary secretaries between 1859 and 2000. Also on view was a chronicle detailing the board's history from its inception in 1859 and subsequent developments.
Members heard that the £1 million appeal in respect of the new Cowes lifeboat station, officially opened by the Queen in July, was nearing its target.
A number of awards marking 'long and meritorious' service were made by the president of the board, Maj Gen Martin White, who is also Lord Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight.
A gold badge was received by the chairman of the board, Lady Pigot, whose citation praised her devotion to the RNLI for over 30 years, 'without fuss or ceremony'. She constantly travelled around the Island to help and support events, arrange venues and join collection teams. She has also been the ambassador for the Cowes station appeal for the last 18 months, and continues to promote the RNLI on the Island.
The citation for Tim Woodcock of the Bembridge Guild, who received a silver badge, referred to the many times he had served as treasurer for the RNLI on the Island, since 1982. As well as having looked after the cash for Seaview and St Helens branch, Bembridge lifeboat station, Bembridge guild and Bembridge station's appeal, he was also treasurer of the Island board. "And he still finds time to be an active branch member, and a very willing and helpful source of information for the wider RNLI community."
Maj Gen White also presented bronze badges to:
Anna Morgan Crockett, current Chairman of the Cowes guild, of which she has been a member since 2002. When the guild's Membership Secretary she managed to keep track of 300 people, doing the job with distinction. In addition, her support for the Cowes station appeal had been 'astonishing', stated the citation;
Elsa Barrett, a member of the Cowes guild for over 35 years, during which she had been a committee member, a Vice President, and a Chairman, and continues to be a willing helper;
Elizabeth King, a committee member of Cowes guild since 1999, during which for six years she was its Press and PR secretary. "She has worked tirelessly," stated the citation. She had also been instrumental in organising the Seafarers Service in Cowes Week at Holy Trinity Church;
Colin Wilkinson and his wife, Helen, leading members of the RNLI's East Cowes branch. Colin had been a committee member for six years and in 2009 became Chairman. Helen was Secretary for six years, and assists with the running of the organisation's East Cowes shop. The couple never missed an opportunity to fund-raise, and besides money for the RNLI's general operational needs, they were involved in raising over £6,000 for the Cowes station appeal. "These two loyal supporters have made a small branch in a difficult area punch way above its weight;"
David Fox, Chairman of the West Wight Fund Raisers, has worked closely with Yarmouth lifeboat station. After seven years of fund-raising for the RNLI in Doncaster he joined the West Wight committee in 2006 and the following year became Chairman. "He takes on a huge amount in West Wight with a relatively small team." He also built a good relationship with those involved in the independent lifeboat at Freshwater.
Distinguished disabled sailor Geoff Holt, who is a member of the RNLI Council, was a guest at the meeting. He spoke about the incredible support given to the RNLI by the Island's 'army of dedicated volunteers'.
Photo: Brighstone lifeboat being launched with the aid of horses in 1907.
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