Town's 'Mr Lifeboat' retires after 40 years
PUBLISHED: 13:00 02 May 2014 | UPDATED: 13:10 02 May 2014
A STALWART of Weston RNLI is retiring this month after 40 years' service to the life-saving charity.
Pete Holder will receive a service certificate from the Duke of Kent when he visits the RNLI’s temporary lifeboat station at Marine Lake on May 15.
Pete joined the RNLI in May 1974 where he became a helmsman and later a deputy launching authority in 1991.
In 1995, he became lifeboat operations manager at the head of the station, a position he will hold until May 17.
Pete has reached the RNLI’s mandatory retirement age of 70 and aims to give more time to his family and other community activities.
The position will be taken by Charlotte Conroy, who was the first woman to join the crew.
Pete said: “Joining the RNLI was really seen as a necessity in the early days whereas now people join out of enthusiasm and belief it is a good thing to do.
“Having Birnbeck Pier open to the public made a huge difference. The public could walk into the boathouse and view the lifeboats.
“This gave the opportunity to sell souvenirs in the boathouse itself. It also gave rise to more public interaction, a feature which has returned since we moved to the temporary station at Knightstone.
“When I started on the lifeboat nearly all the crew were commercial sailors, either from the pleasure boats which plied in Weston Bay or from the angling boats.
“There were no pagers in years gone bye. The lifeboat crew was called by the firing of maroons, no longer allowed for health and safety reasons.
“Much has changed but today, as in the past, the RNLI volunteer crews are all dedicated to saving lives at sea.”
RNLI spokesman Glyn Hayes said: “Both the RNLI and the community of Weston owe an awful lot to Pete who has been a stalwart of the life-saving service and who has kept it all together even though there have been problems of not being able to use our lifeboat station on Birnbeck.”
Nigel Jones, RNLI divisional operations manager for the South West, said nothing was too much trouble for Pete, night or day.
He said: “Without his help and time we would have been very much struggling with aspects of the station at Weston.
“Even while he was dealing with some fairly significant medical issues, and in some pain and discomfort, Pete was always available to assist coastal staff with station matters.
“Where many would have given up long ago, Pete has remained a true stalwart for the station and for the RNLI in Weston. We simply would not be where we are without him.”