Two Looe RNLI volunteers have been presented with 30-year long service medals as the charity prepares to celebrate its 200th birthday this year.

It was a very busy day for Looe Lifeboat Station on Wednesday, December 20, as the presentations were made. An afternoon training exercise saw three of the newest volunteers qualify as substantive crew, and in the evening, two of the long standing crew volunteers, Brian Bowdler and David Jackman, were presented with their 30-year long service medals by former Looe RNLI lifeboat helm, Nick Pope.

During the celebrations, Nick recalled back to 1992 when the RNLI proposed to re-establish an inshore lifeboat station in Looe for the summer months. Hearing that the RNLI were looking for volunteer crew, Nick says he volunteered for boat crew in the March of 1992.

East Looe Town Trust had allowed use of the deckchair store on the seafront to house a relief D Class inshore lifeboat which they used for training until the station went operational on June 15, 1992.

Shortly after Dave Haines volunteered and was followed by Brian Bowdler and David Jackman along with other crew members who have stood down from the station over the years. As Nick, Dave and Brian reached the upper age limit for lifeboat helms they remained volunteers with the station acting as deputy launch authorities (DLA), with Dave Haines later taking over the role of lifeboat operations manager. David Jackman, who volunteered when he was 17, is now one of the senior helms.

After the presentation Nick, David, Brian and Dave recalled how the D Class was launched in the early 90’s, for a few years they did not have a quad bike or tractor, so the lifeboat on its trailer had to be physically pushed down the beach to the water’s edge to launch.

It was said that recovering the lifeboat was even more exhausting as it had to be hauled back up the beach, often in soft sand.

With a successful summer season, the RNLI decided to make the station operational all year round.

East Looe Town Trust needed to use the deck chair store during the winter, so the D Class was stored in a container by the dinghy park with a portacabin for crew to store and change into their drysuits.

In July 1998 a new boathouse and shop opened on Middleton’s corner. The D Class was launched into the river with a davit on the quayside, or pushed along Buller Quay to the slipway.

In 2003 the station moved to the purpose built Albatross Boathouse on the seafront when the larger Atlantic 75 was placed on service alongside the D Class inshore lifeboat.

Nick, who stood down at the end of the year after 31 years of volunteering, received his 30-year long service medal alongside Dave Haines.

Nick said: “It has been an honour and privilege to serve the RNLI and community of Looe alongside Dave, Brian, David and the rest of the crew.”

Nick added that whilst it was with mixed emotions he was leaving the station, he was delighted to witness the next generation of volunteer crew qualifying earlier in the afternoon and felt the station was in capable hands for the future.

Looe RNLI’s lifeboat press officer, Ian Foster, said: “Collectively these four individuals have volunteered 122 years of service to the RNLI and our community, we thank them for their commitment and enthusiasm.

“It is a truly remarkable achievement, and they should be immensely proud of what they have done for Looe and the wider RNLI.

“Since 1992 Looe’s inshore lifeboats have been launched over 1,000 times and our volunteer crews have saved 65 lives. A wonderful life saving legacy.”