‘Wonderful’ RNLI volunteer dies after illness battle

Brian Ward. Picture: Weston RNLI

Brian Ward. Picture: Weston RNLI - Credit: Weston RNLI

A ‘wonderful man’ who devoted almost half a century to keeping people safe on Weston’s coast has died.

Brian Ward's association with the sea was pretty much instant as he was born on the now-closed Birnbeck Island.

But it was with Weston RNLI he devoted much of his life to, alongside his close friend Richard Spindler. He signed up as a crew member at the age of 17.

Brian, who received a long service award earlier this year, died at the start of the month after a period of illness.

Michael Buckland, Weston lifeboat operations manager, said: "I knew Brian from when I first joined the crew 20 years ago.

"Always a source of good advice, sound judgement and genuine support. I shall miss him greatly as will all my crew.

"Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

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Brian's father ran a bar on Birnbeck Island, leading to his son's unusual birth.

A Weston RNLI spokesman said: "As soon as he was old enough, aged 17, he joined the crew and never looked back.

"A stalwart member of the volunteer team he took part in many rescues.

"He served as boat crew for many years until back problems caused him to have to give it up but he remained as treasurer for the station and fundraisers. "He was appointed deputy launching authority, an extremely responsible job which has to make the final decision about when to launch the lifeboats.

"He remained in this role until he had to retire recently."

Brian also played a pivotal role in raising money for Weston RNLI. The national charity's running costs in 2017 were £176.5million - approximately £485,000 a day - and it relies on voluntary contributions and legacies to maintain its lifesaving work.

One senior member of the RNLI team said: "He was the voice of calm, when he was around everything was OK, he brought a peace to any situation.

"He was such a wonderful man."

When not carrying out work with the lifeboat crews, Brian worked in the finance industry.

The 65-year-old was an advisor to many people in Weston, specialising in mortgages later on in his career.

Brian's funeral will be held at St Joseph's Church, in Camp Road, at 11am on Thursday.