Ex-crew man visits lifeboat

Stephen Norris with Eastbourne Lifeboat crew members
Stephen Norris with Eastbourne Lifeboat crew members

Former lifeboat crewman Stephen Morris enjoyed a wonderful day visiting the Eastbourne lifeboat and exchanging tales with the crew.

Stephen, who served with the RNLI between 1975 – 1980, as part of the crew on the ‘Duke of Kent’ lifeboat, is a resident at Shinewater Court physical disabilities centre.

He was welcomed to the station by Carl Pocock, Lifeboat Operations Manager, and some of the crew he met included those who worked to save life and property from the Eastbourne Pier fire in 2015.

Stephen was shown the boat house and the current 42 tonne lifeboat ‘Diamond Jubilee’; the all-weather boat that works mainly with smaller boats in the area which have engine problems or get caught in the nets of fishing craft.

The smaller inshore boat deals with power boat incidents and also those associated with Beachy Head.

He was also introduced to ‘Dead Fred’, the training tool used to help the crews pick up people from the water.

Stephen said: “I loved being able to see the new boat and I enjoyed being able to share some of my stories with the current crew.

“It was a lot harder in my day.”

Sara York, Activities Co-ordinator, who has been liaising with the RNLI about the visits said: “It’s been so fantastic to see Stephen being able to revisit a vital part of his life.”

This opportunity to visit the RNLI originated from Stephen’s photo being shared on The Disabilities Trust’s Twitter (@theDTgroup) page as part of their #SeeMeNotDisability social media campaign, launched last year during UK Disability History Month (22nd November – 22nd December 2016).

The photograph of Stephen holding up a sign saying “I was a lifeboat man”, was retweeted by the RNLI to their 116,000 Twitter followers and as a result of this the two charities made contact and arranged for Stephen to visit them, as well as for the crew to visit Shinewater Court in the near future.

There is now a plan for the Eastbourne RNLI crew, along with some of those at Shinewater Court, to participate in a ‘fun run’ together in October to raise money for both charities.

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