Five RNLI supporters and volunteers recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours
Five long-standing RNLI supporters and volunteers were among those recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced today.
RNLI Chief Executive, Paul Boissier said: ‘The RNLI depends on the commitment, courage and skills of its volunteers, fundraisers and staff and I am delighted to see that these five people have been recognised in this years’ Queen’s Birthday Honours. It is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of these amazing people who do so much to help us continue our lifesaving work.’
Mark Criddle, Coxswain of Torbay RNLI lifeboat station in Devon, was awarded an OBE for his enduring service to Maritime Safety.
Mark, has given almost 30 years of unwavering support to the RNLI and having launched on service more than 400 times is the RNLI’s most decorated serving Coxswain.
In January 2008 his courage and outstanding seamanship resulted in him being awarded a silver medal for gallantry for the rescue of eight crew from the cargo ship Ice Prince. The vessel was in difficulty 31 miles out in the English Channel, pitching and rolling severely in south westerly force 9 winds and the horrendous conditions shifted the cargo, causing her to list by 45 degrees.
Lives were in immediate danger and it took the lifeboat and its crew, led by Mark, more than 50 runs alongside the vessel to get the crew of the Ice Prince safely on board. Mark and his crew were subsequently awarded the Pride of Britain Emergency Services Award for their outstanding efforts that night.
Mark said: ‘I am honoured and humbled to receive such an honour and I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to my wife and family who have committed as much time as I have to the RNLI over the last 30 years. You are only as good as the people you surround yourself with and I am extremely lucky to have such a supportive family and outstanding crew to serve alongside at Torbay RNLI.’
There was an MBE for Bill Deans, the RNLI’s Aberdeen lifeboat operations manager with 42 years’ service to Saving Lives at Sea
Bill said: “Whilst I’m honoured to receive the MBE, the lifeboat service isn’t about individuals, it’s about crews. I’ve had the good fortune to serve with outstanding crewmates down the years. None of us could have carried on without the bond which exists within crews, and every life we saved was a crew achievement.”
Bill – a police constable at the time – began volunteering as a crew-member on Aberdeen’s Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) in 1976. A veteran of more than 634 rescues, Bill retired from active crew service at the age of 60 in 2010. He immediately began volunteering as a Deputy Launching Authority before, in 2015, being invited to take up his present role as Lifeboat Operations Manager at Aberdeen Lifeboat Station.
Bill was born in Aberdeen but it was his mother’s family roots in Stronsay, Orkney, which inspired his interest in the RNLI. He now lives in Belhelvie, Aberdeenshire with his wife, Pat; the couple have two grown-up children and two grand-children.
Stan Todd, the first RNLI crew member to complete 1000 shouts was also honoured with an MBE for his 38 years of saving lives on the coast and on the Thames in London.
In 1980, Stan was visiting Brighton just after leaving the army when he watched a lifeboat launch. Stan immediately said, “That’s what I’m going to do.” He signed up as crew in the station that afternoon and has stayed ever since.
Stan, now based at Tower station in London, has lost count of the hundreds of lives he has saved in his years of service. He received an award for a launch during Hurricane Charlie in August 1987 during a shout when he and three other crew swam a life raft back to Brighton beach after the boat had capsized three times. The crew still rescued those in trouble in the water.
Stan said of his nomination: “I’m absolutely astonished to receive this honour. None of us on lifeboats do what we do for an award like that. I feel so privileged to be recognised for doing something I love this much. Being lifeboat crew gets in your blood – we socialise together when we’re off the boat and we’re family to each other. I think my wife and daughters are looking forward to this ceremony even more than I am! I’m hugely proud to have been part of the RNLI for this long and I want to continue saving lives for as long as I can."
Also among the recipient being honoured was Martin Steeden, the former coxswain of the Swanage Lifeboat who has been awarded an MBE in recognition of almost forty years of saving lives at sea.
Martin Steeden, who joined the crew in 1977 spent the last sixteen years of his service as volunteer coxswain of the station’s all-weather lifeboat, said it was a ‘massive privilege.’
He said: ‘I married the coxswain’s daughter, I was living in their house and lifeboats were their life, the whole family were in the crew so I found it was a natural thing to do,’ said Martin, who is a carpenter by trade.
During his time with the Swanage lifeboat he has seen his two sons Gavin and Matthew join the crew and been involved in saving hundreds of lives.
He said ‘There’s no greater privilege than doing what I did, to say you’ve saved someone’s life, or be part of saving someone’s life there’s nothing like it. There’s nothing better than being on a lifeboat crew’.
An MBE also went to Francis Ashcroft McKnight Treasurer of the Lancashire Branch of SSAFA. For voluntary service to ex-Service Personnel, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and to charity.
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.