Long-serving Hartlepool lifeboat crew member presented with award by RNLI chief executive

A dedicated Hartlepool RNLI crew member received his long-service award from a VIP.

Monday, 20th September 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 20th September 2021, 10:34 am
RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie presenting volunteer crew member Matt Blanchard with his long service award at the Ferry Road lifeboat station. Picture Tom Collins.

RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie presented Matt Blanchard with his 20-year long service medal during a visit to the lifeboat station in Ferry Road and congratulated him for his commitment to the charity including during the pandemic.

Matt, who is a helm for Hartlepool’s inshore lifeboat and second coxswain for the all weather lifeboat, joined the RNLI whilst working at an outdoor activities centre at the Hartlepool Marina.

As well as taking part in sea rescues and being available any time of day, he also teaches other volunteers all important lifesaving skills.

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Matt on duty with fellow volunteer crew members. Picture Tom Collins.

Speaking to gathered volunteers at the boathouse Mr Dowie said: “I’d like to thank you all for what you've done in the past 18 months.

"It’s been an absolute pleasure meeting the crew and station officials who like their counterparts across the RNLI do an amazing job playing there part in saving lives at sea.”

Matt, 42, said: “The years have simply flown by and I've enjoyed every minute especially this year as myself and wife Clare are now parents to our son, Innes, who was born a few weeks ago and is keeping us both busy.

“Four years ago I was lucky to join the RNLI as an assessor trainer so basically I teach the volunteers how to save lives at sea which is very rewarding.”

Matt said he has many memories of rescues but summed up those moments saying: "I'm just happy to go out there and do what we have to do and come back safely with the crew and casualty.”

Hartlepool RNLI coxswain Robbie Maiden also praised his contribution to the service, adding: “Matt's dedication and professionalism over the years has been a credit to the RNLI and his fellow crew members.

"Not only does Matt teach the volunteers lifesaving skills, he is on call with the rest of the crew at Hartlepool to drop everything at a moments notice when the pagers go off and help those in danger at sea.”

Hartlepool RNLI is called out regularly to help people in danger at sea.

Recent alerts include helping a 60ft yacht with only one person on board that had suffered mechanical failure off the Headland on September 8.

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