Following his retirement, Jim decided to join the shore crew of the lifeboat station and keep his connection with the pier. Given the length of the pier, it is a long haul to get to the lifeboats when the tide is out. However, Post Office cycles as well as a little yellow emergency bus, complete with blue lights and sirens, are available.
The two craft at the end of the pier can be launched fully manned by a hoist designed to Lloyd's of London specifications. Mostly, the crews are called out to assist broken down jet skiers or windsurfers who have been blown out to sea and become caught by the changing winds.
The day after I paid them a visit, the boat was called out all day to assist a fleet of racing ships which had been caught by gales. Some of the boats' masts had broken, while others had turned over, so it was a hectic day for these volunteers.
Last year some 7,365 people were rescued by the RNLI, and in addition the beach rescue teams were called out to 6,528 incidents with 22 lives being saved.
The Masonic lifeboats have launched 652 times and saved in excess of 1,037 lives during the 132-year connection between the RNLI and the Craft. It is a long association with which Freemasons can feel very proud.
Station and operational years
North Berwick 1871-1887
Hope Cove 1878-1887
Hope Cove 1887-1900
City Masonic Club
Relief Fleet 1910-1918
Hope Cove 1903-1930
Duke of Connaught
General Reserve Fleet 1939-1951
Duchess of Kent
General Reserve Fleet 1980
Hope Cove 1878
Note: Lady Leigh was the wife of Lord Leigh, Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire 1852-1905, and was purchased to mark his 20th anniversary as PGM. HRH Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) was Grand Master 1874-1901. HRH Queen Alexandra was his wife. HRH the Duke of Connaught was Grand Master 1901-1939. When the Duchess of Kent was launched, the Duke attended and found himself in the interesting position of presenting the lifeboat in his capacity as Grand Master to himself as President of the RNLI!
The Valerie Wilson was founded in memory of the late wife of Leslie Wilson, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Middlesex,
Sources: The Masonic Illustrated; David Peabody photo collection; Freemasonry and Lifeboats, F E Dean, RNLI Southend Station press office.
Web site created by Mark Griffin