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Senior Hunstanton lifeboat official retires after decades of safety dedication

A long-serving Lifeboat volunteer is retiring after more than 30 years of work to help keep people safe at sea.

Hunstanton crew operations manager Robin Rafferty was involved in his last mission on Sunday, when the inshore lifeboat was called out to a windsurfer in difficulty off Heacham.

He said: “It’s been a very good time. I’ve enjoyed working with the crew and the public.”

Retiring Hunstanton lifeboat operations manager Robin Rafferty, left, and his successor Rigil Kent (12130589)
Retiring Hunstanton lifeboat operations manager Robin Rafferty, left, and his successor Rigil Kent (12130589)

A part time whelk fisherman when younger, Robin always had an affinity with the sea and joined the lifeboat as a crew member in 1984.

He said: “I thought I had something to offer.”

Through the years he progressed first as helmsman and then senior helmsman before having to give up the job having reached the helmsman’s retirement age.

Too old for active service with the RNLI he joined Hunstanton’s auxiliary coastguard for some years until the call came asking him if he would take on the job of operations manager, a job he held for 13 years.

“I remember several big operations,” he said.“Including some where we lost children who were swept out to sea when walking along the sands.”

Another occasion he remembers was when a visitor dug a deep hole in the sand near the Hunstanton cliffs and died when the walls caved in on him.

His life outside he love of the sea was working for British Sugar, a job from which he retired eighteen months ago.

He added: “Now I shall have time for some jobs my wife, Dagmar, has lined up from me.”

Stationlifeboat chairman, Michael Meakin, said:“He’s done a fantastic, demanding job,” pointing out that Rafferty had combined it with his full time job for British Sugar.

Taking over is long-time lifeboat stalwart, Rigel Kent.

He said: “It’s a massive responsibility.I’m quite nervous but if I do half as good a job as Robin has done I’ll have succeeded in that role.”

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