Poole long serving volunteers bow out after years
Behind every great man there’s a great woman and the expression has been very much the case at Poole Lifeboat Station when it comes to Rod and Carole Brown.
One of Poole Lifeboats longest serving couples attended their last crew meeting on Thursday 31 August, stepping down from the roles that have been quite literally ‘their life’ for the past 24 years.
Local sail makers Rod and Carole, proprietors of Quay Sails in Poole (which they coincidentally started, in the building across from where the lifeboat station is now), have been integral to the running of the busy coastal lifeboat station for many years.
Rod started in 1993 as one of the four deputy launch authorities, which is a volunteer role and an important one as you need local knowledge of the harbour and waters beyond plus the time commitment to be on duty, to be able to make the decision on which lifeboat to launch, after being the first point of contact when a 999 call comes through from the Coastguard.
It was also for Rod an ‘apprenticeship’ to learn the ropes and understand the ‘ebb and flow’ of the station to the take on the senior role of Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM), which he did when the position became vacant. This role is a pivotal role at any lifeboat station. Rod drew on his experience as a local sailor, and his network of contacts plus the support of his wife and family. He has been responsible for the day to day smooth running of the busy station. He ensured that there was trained competent and confident crew and that the boats were safe, maintained and ready to launch. He has also been the spokesman, ambassador and always on call, whenever needed, a negotiator, mediator, coffee maker or just there whatever time, when the boats return to say ‘well done guys, good job’.
Carole was cajoled officially into the role of Poole Lifeboat treasurer in 2001 but had been Rod’s rock, PA and admin support, all the way through, more so when Rod was promoted to LOM. Carole dealt with the day to day administration from answering emails, replying to correspondence, taking the minutes to procurement, managing the station spending, doing the banking to producing the annual accounts and much more, all this whilst running their own business and juggling family life.
Over the years they have both tirelessly fundraised and have joined in all of the community events, photo shoots, Mayors parades, representatives for the RNLI for the freedom of the borough, leading by example, always available and never shying away.
Carole has also experienced first-hand what it is like to have been rescued by the lifeboat. The crew sincerely hope that she won’t make it a hat-trick, but in, Carole there is a perfect example as to how even the most experienced sailors can have a mishap and need help.
Poole’s longest serving volunteer Jonathan Clark paid tribute to Rod and Carole. He said: ‘I wish Rod and Carole all the best, certainly another end to an era. We have shared many good times and some very sad ones, we have laughed and we have cried together, we have worked hard and have shared special memories, especially the 150th year and when the 'City of Sheffield’ arrived and left the station. Throughout, Rod and Carole have been a huge part of the fixture and fittings, they steadied the ship through the changes and the station will be forever indebted to them; for their selfless support, friendship and willingness to put themselves out and be the turn- to people when something needed doing, the commitment that they have given through all these years is immeasurable and we cannot thank them enough.'
The crew held a surprise party recently to acknowledge all that they have done and to say thank you, among friends, lifeboat family, crew, past and present, after the meeting there will also be no doubt a well-deserved drink or two, a toast and a few yarns among friends after the couple leave the station for the last time.
Cheers, here’s to you both, Rod and Carole.
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 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.