Vellums presented to Exmouth RNLI volunteers after surprise thank you meal
Following a rescue of four young men on October 23 2011, volunteer crew members Mark Champion and Andy Williams both received an inscription of thanks from the Institution on vellum for their roles. In-shore lifeboat helmsman, Roger Jackson who was awarded a bronze medal for gallantry for the same rescue, cooked a meal for 12 RNLI volunteers to thank them. The diners ate al-fresco at the top of the launching ramp on July 26 with the surprise guest TV chefs Hairy Bikers revealing their help in the kitchen.
Roger had been thinking of ways to thank his fellow volunteers ever since he had heard of his award. He felt that not only Andy Williams and Mark Champion should be thanked, but also Dr. Colin May the tractor driver who launched the in-shore lifeboat George Bearman, should be included. Also invited to the meal would be Captain Hugh Fogarty, Head of RNLI fleet operations; Exmouth RNLI Coxswain, Tim Mock; RNLI mechanic, Mark Sampson and Volunteer Deputy Launching Authority, Peter Thomas. Together with some wives and partners, this totalled 12 diners with Roger playing the role of waiter.
The 12 diners assembled at 3.30pm around a flower decorated table. Access to the ramp from the footpath was temporarily roped off, with both lifeboats positioned ready for launching. At 3.35pm, the in-shore lifeboat George Bearman was tasked to launch but was stood down three minutes later. It was a hot, sunny day with the beach full of people and this spectacle attracted many onlookers. All Exmouth RNLI volunteers were invited to the award presentation that followed at 6pm.
Roger appeared, welcomed the diners and introduced the real surprise. TV chefs Hairy Bikers appeared at the bow of the all-weather lifeboat Margaret Jean and revealed they had helped Roger cook their meal. The BBC had been filming the celebrity chefs for two days at Exmouth RNLI to learn more about Roger’s role in the charity that saves lives at sea.
Captain Hugh Fogarty presented Roger with a framed vellum for his bronze medal for gallantry, which he had previously been awarded at London’s Barbican. Hairy Biker, Dave Myers presented Mark Champion with his framed vellum and Hairy Biker, Simon King presented Andy Williams with his. A framed letter of thanks from the life-saving at sea charity’s Chief Executive, Paul Boissier was presented to Tooltrak driver, Colin May. Shore workers rarely receive such awards, but on this occasion RNLI chiefs recognised Dr. May’s persistence to launch in such severe sea conditions. Champagne was served to all Exmouth RNLI volunteers present at Roger’s request to share the station’s achievements.
The Hairy Bikers were filming with the RNLI as part of a new series called ‘Everyday Gourmet’ expected to be broadcast on BBC Two in the New Year.