An Arbroath lifeboat volunteer, Scotland’s oldest serving crewman, will represent the RNLI for the first time at the Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph Service.
Scotland’s oldest serving lifeboat crew member - Arbroath lifeboat mechanic Ron Churchill is preparing to represent the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in the annual Remembrance Sunday Cenotaph service this weekend, marking the first time in history the charity has been officially represented.
Ron Churchill, 64, from Arbroath, is one of 19 people from across the UK and Ireland who will represent the RNLI in the official Remembrance Sunday commemoration in London’s Whitehall on Sunday 13 November.
Organised by the Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Cenotaph Service and Parade is a poignant event in which thousands of people gather to remember the sacrifices people have made throughout history, to safeguard the memory of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy today.
Ron has been a volunteer lifeboat crew member at Arbroath RNLI Lifeboat Station for 35 years.
Ron joined the crew on May 2,1981, became emergency mechanic for the all weather lifeboat on September 1, 1995, became 3rd mechanic in 2000, 2nd mechanic in 2004 and took on the job of full time mechanic at the station on December 2, 2013.
From 1970 until 1982 Ron served in 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery and has three campaign medals to his name, one of which is for serving during the Falklands War. During the conflict Ron was amongst the first to set foot on the Falkland Islands. Ron also did several tours in Northern Ireland during his military career.
Speaking of his involvement in the ceremony Ron said: “I am very proud and humbled to have been invited to take part in the remembrance ceremony, not least because it is the first time the RNLI has been involved.”
Ron’s son, Ron junior is also a crew member at the station and having recently become 2nd mechanic of the Arbroath lifeboat Ron junior is following in his father’s footsteps.
Although thousands of RNLI volunteers have publicly attended Remembrance Sunday events throughout history, this is the first time the RNLI has been formally invited to take part in the service and parade, joining 48 other organisations and associations who will also be officially represented.
The RNLI played its own role in the famed Dunkirk ‘little ships’ evacuation in 1940. 20 RNLI lifeboats were among the 700 private boats that sailed from Ramsgate to Dunkirk between May 26 and June 4, 1940, as part of Operation Dynamo, helping to rescue more than 338,000 British and French soldiers who were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk during the Second World War.
Paul Boissier, Chief Executive of the RNLI, said to be invited to formally take part on Remembrance Sunday was both an honour and a privilege: “Like so many other associations, the RNLI played its part in the two World Wars. Apart from the many volunteers who went off to fight, many lifeboats joined the flotilla of Little Ships to pull off the audacious evacuation in 1940.
“It fills me with immense pride that we will be formally represented in the Cenotaph service as part of the annual commemoration. This is the first time in history the RNLI will be represented and I know that on the day our volunteers thoughts will be with the many millions who gave their own lives so that today we can enjoy the freedom we have.”
The RNLI remains a charity that is independent of the Government and relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions to fund its lifesaving work. In 2015 the charity’s lifeboats launched a total of 8228 times and rescued 7973 people, saving 348 lives. Meanwhile RNLI beach lifeguards responded to a total of 15,714 incidents, assisted 18,181 people, and saved 94 lives.