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Three members of the Whitstable lifeboat crew have had their years of service to the station and RNLI recognised at a presentation to mark their retirement from operational duties with the station.

Andy Kennedy joined the Lifeboat station in 1974 and for the next 42 years gave continuous service as a lifeboat crewman, helmsman, mechanic and, finally, as the tractor and lifeboat carriage maintainer.

He was presented with a ‘Certificate of Service’ marking this extraordinary record and expressing the thanks of the trustees of the RNLI.

Whitstable Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Judge said “Andy brought a wealth of maritime and engineering expertise to the station having been trained as a marine engineer in a local shipyard and later serving as an engineer and then a skipper with the Kent and Essex Sea Fisheries Committee which later became the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority”

“In 1977 he was awarded a RNLI Letter of Thanks” for his part in the rescue of the crew of three from a trawler in difficulties in a gale off Whitstable and it is an outstanding achievement to have served this station for 42 years” .

Andy recalls that one of his most memorable ‘shouts’ was in October 1979 to two males and two girls (in high heels) who had got stuck in mud having attempted to walk ashore from a speedboat aground in the Swale. Having extricated them from their predicament and landed them ashore the lifeboat crew and the lifeboat returned to station covered in mud!

Ray Page who joined the station in 1983 and is a previous recipient of a ‘Certificate of Service’ for his time as a crewman and helmsman, and a ‘Statuette’ for his continued service as a deputy launching authority, has retired from the operational side of the RNLI. He is however, continuing to support the station by undertaking the role of boathouse manager and to mark this transition and thank him for his operational help, the crew presented him with a voucher for angling equipment and a framed photo montage of his time at the station.

Ray’s most memorable call was in the early 90’s as helmsman when the lifeboat was called to rescue 11 children who had capsized from canoes in a squall off Whitstable. “We got 11 of them in the lifeboat and back to the harbour but had to return to the scene when it was thought one was unaccounted for, fortunately we had them all”.

Former lifeboat crewmember Mike Dinley was presented with a framed letter of thanks from the RNLI Director of Operations, George Rawlinson, for his nine years’ service as a volunteer lifeboat crewman. Mike Judge said “During that time, as well as meeting the demands of turning out on emergency calls for help, Mike fully supported all the activities of the RNLI, including fundraising events and maintenance of the station”.