A man who has been a stalwart of his Northumberland village’s lifeboat team for 65 years has been recognised for his service.
John Hanvey, who has been a mainstay of Seahouses Royal National Lifeboat Institution since 1949 as crewman and station management committee chairman, has been awarded the institution’s gold badge.
The 79-year-old retired funeral director, whose family has played a major part in the story of the village lifeboat, last night spoke of his pride and honour at the accolade.
It was in 1949 that he first joined the Seahouses - then North Sunderland - lifeboat station as a shore helper, with, at the time, only fishermen allowed to become crewmen.
It was perhaps no surprise that he should get involved as his grandfather and uncle had been crewmen, with another uncle honorary secretary.
He said: “It has been in the family that many years.”
In 1963 John, who lives at Southfield Avenue in the village, became a crewman on the first inshore lifeboat to be stationed at Seahouses.
Over the years that followed, he estimates he must have gone out on hundreds of callouts on both the station’s inshore and all weather lifeboats,
John recalls: “Some you are pleased because you have rescued people, there were other ones where little kids were drowned and we had to recover their bodies and bring them back and it was not very pleasant to meet their families at shore. Each rescue is a totally different thing.”
By 1986, he was forced to give up being a crewman after arthritis in his hip saw him fail his medical. Instead, John was appointed chairman of the management committee, a role he still performs.
John has not been the only Hanvey to be a part of the Seahouses team in recent years with wife Mary, 79, having only recently retired from her voluntary duties at the site’s souvenir shop and his son, also called John, the station’s full time coxswain and mechanic.
John senior was given the RNLI’s silver badge around five years ago and received a letter last Spring informing him that he was to be awarded the gold.
He was presented with his badge at the station, surrounded by current crewmen.