After 13,505 days of life with a pager Tony Edwards (LOM) is ready for silence
The RNLI has long history of saving lives at sea but they could not be so successful in achieving this task without dedicated volunteers like Tony
He has hung up his pager after thirty-seven years of involvement as crew (eleven years), DLA (Deputy Launch Authority) (twenty-four years) and Lifeboat Operations Manager (two years) at RNLI Rye Harbour.
In 1982 Tony, having left the Royal Marines, signed up as a crew-member at the Harbour, a natural step forward for a man associated with the sea. Humphrey Lestocq was Hon. Secretary at the time (the position now known as LOM).
Looking back over this time and commitment Tony remarked, 'One of the most difficult things about being a lifeboat volunteer was the effect on family life. When the pager goes off you may have to leave the Sunday lunch on the table, a party, a full trolley at the supermarket or even someone's wedding.' Rosemary, his wife, has been a tremendous support and being an RNLI fundraiser and launcher herself has understood the need for commitment, as have their children, Victoria and Sarah.
There have been many changes over the past thirty-seven years, the most significant being the boats, the equipment, the clothing and training: but these are just the tools. Tony explained, ‘The best bit of my career in the RNLI is the satisfaction of knowing I have helped to save lives. I am happy to hand over a station full of purpose and strengthened by seven recent new recruits and a new Helm: there is a buzz at Rye Harbour. I have had great pleasure in watching the team grow. The crew become your second family. You see young lads taking on more responsibility and flourishing. I have merely been a custodian for a small part of the history of the station. It makes me proud to leave it in a strong position. The new crew members are eager to learn and ready to take on board the training involved. I am proud of all the crew.'
At the leaving party thrown by the crew for Tony and Rosemary last Friday Glen Mallen, South East Regional Life-Saving Manager, underlined Tony's achievements: 'It is always sad to see someone leave the RNLI. Tony Edwards has been part of the furniture at Rye Harbour lifeboat station for thirty-seven years, the last two as LOM. The LOM is the glue that makes bonds and directs a good lifeboat station. He or she is often the unsung hero, the volunteer who locally leads our rescue service. The RNLI and Rye Harbour lifeboat station are indebted to Tony for his long and proud service: I know he will be very much missed.’
Tony and the various crews he has worked with have attended a multitude of shouts in many different scenarios. One he recalled in particular was when the lifeboat set off to assist children aged eight, five and eighteen months old floating out to sea on an toy inflatable canoe. They were all very calm, unlike their distraught parents on the beach. Whilst those rescued remember the event for a long time afterwards crew members move on to the next rescue.
Allen Head, Area Life-Saving Manager, adds his appreciation of a valued colleague: 'At the heart of every lifeboat station lies an unsung hero called the LOM. Tony has been that lifeblood at Rye Harbour for the past two years in which we have seen the station secure a raft of new volunteers and develop them into lifeboat crew.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the unwavering support of Tony's wife Rosemary, who has put up with decades of unexpected pager requests and interruptions to family life. Tony's dedication to saving lives is a real inspiration and he should be proud of his achievements in this selfless cause. It's been a pleasure to serve with him.'
RNLI Media contacts
• Kt Bruce, Rye Harbour RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer (07789) 818878 Kt@ktbrucephotography.com
• Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 firstname.lastname@example.org
• For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
RNLI online: For more information on the RNLI please visit https://www.rnli.org
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland.
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.