VOLUNTEER Arbroath lifeboat crew member, Ron Churchill snr., joined a select band recently when he was awarded a medal from the RNLI in recognition of 30 years service.
Ron first joined the RNLI in Arbroath in 1981 as a crew member on the all-weather lifeboat, Duke of Montrose. He moved to the area in the early 1970s while serving at RM Condor. Ron recalled: “To this day I have no idea why I joined the RNLI but I’m certainly glad I did!”
Currently the second mechanic on the all-weather lifeboat at Arbroath, a position he has held since 2004, Ron has undertaken a variety of roles during his 30 years of service, including navigator and first aider among others. For the past 18 months he has also been the lifeboat training co-ordinator.
Ron has been involved in some truly memorable ‘shouts’ throughout his years of volunteer service. However, the one which stands out among the rest for him was the first call out on Arbroath’s current all-weather lifeboat RNLB Inchcape in 1993.
He explained: “We had been called to assist in the rescue of two crew members from a capsized yacht off the coast at Carnoustie. One of the crew had made it back to shore on his own but his friend was still in the water.
“When we located him he was practically on the surf line which made it extremely precarious taking the all-weather boat in to pick him up. At one point, we could even feel the bottom of the boat bouncing on the sea bed.”
He concluded: “Thankfully, we managed to get the man out of the water safely without any lasting damage either to him or the lifeboat but it was touch and go for a while!”
Paying tribute to Ron, lifeboat operations manager at Arbroath, Alex Smith, said: “Ron is a real crew man. We all have a huge amount of respect for him both as a valued and vital member of the lifeboat crew and as a person.”
Having already completed well over 1,000 hours in service and exercise at sea as a volunteer on the lifeboats, Ron has no desire to stop now and he puts his unwavering enthusiasm down to being able to give something good back to the community and be part of a service that really makes a difference to those at sea.