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INTERVIEW: Morecambe lifeboat crew reflect on 200 years of history

Paul Turner and Colin Midwinter from the Morecambe RNLI team

Members of Morecambe lifeboat crew have been reflecting on the 200th anniversary of the RNLI.

Beyond Radio spoke to Paul Turner, lifeboat operations manager, and Colin Midwinter, water safety adviser, at Morecambe lifeboat station.

They are gearing up for a big celebration of the Royal National Lifeboat Instiution (RNLI)'s 200th anniversary, taking place at the hovercraft station on Saturday August 3 from 10am to 4pm.

The public is welcome to go along and meet the crew, see the Morecambe lifeboat and hovercraft, and Beyond Radio will be there too!

LISTEN to our interview with Paul Turner and Colin Midwinter

This year to date, Morecambe's volunteer lifeboat crew have been called out 37 times by the Coastguard. They had around 90 call-outs in 2023.

As water safety adviser, Colin's job is to educate and advise people about the dangers of Morecambe Bay and its nearby waters.

"The key message is respect the water," he said.

"Morecambe Bay is absolutely beautiful but if you don't respect it, it will catch you out.

"The tide comes in very quickly and the water is cold all the year round.

"If you're going out on the sands, please check the tide tables first.

"It's a sad fact that nearly 50 per cent of the people who drown in the UK everty year were not involved in any specific water activity. It's people who have slipped off rocks, fallen in, quite by accident. What we're trying to do is cut that down.

"Please be careful and if you don't do anything else, learn to float, because that will save your life.

"We're putting the message out as much as we can and on the open day, we'll be there. Please come and talk to us and say hello."

Morecambe RNLI has around 47 volunteers in total, 35 of which are crew.

"We get called out of work, come from home, and try to make their way to the lifeboat station as quick as we possibly can," said Paul.

"We are a very busy station."

Paul joined Morecambe lifeboat crew at the age of 17, and in 2004 was on the lifeboat on the night of the Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy.

He returned to Morecambe in 2023 as operations manager.

Colin joined in 1973 and has returned to Morecambe crew after working in the prison service.

He says the lifeboat service has changed drastically over the past 51 years.

"It's very very different," he said.

"We had a rubber boat in a prefabricated garage. That was the lifeboat station. We shared size 11 waders. There was so such thing as dry suits. We had a police radio. We launched the boat by hand. The brief was basically go out, get them in the boat, bring them back as soon as you can.

"Now the crew are trained to a whole different level and therefore the commitment is very different."

Paul said: "The guys and girls do a phenomenal job, not just turning out for shouts, but it's the training that goes into it.

"Anyone who wants to join the crew, get in touch and we'll let you know when our next vacancies are around."

Paul and Colin also thanked the public for continuing to support and fund the RNLI charity, raising the money to help the crew save lives.

Colin said: "The people of Morecambe and the surrounding area have always supported us very very well, and we really appreciate it."

For more information on Morecambe lifeboat station, how to donate and tide tables see HERE.

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