Lifeboat stalwart Richard is honoured with award

Richard Tollett Award
Richard Tollett Award

RYE Harbour Lifeboat Operations Manager Richard Tollett has received a special award in recognition of more than 45 years of service to the RNLI.

Richard has been a key figure at Rye Harbour Lifeboat Station and has dealt with hundreds of incidents and rescues over the years.

The lifeboat stations covers one of the busiest beaches on the South Coast at Camber Sands and Richard has played a key role in trying to educate people on the dangers of inflatables being blown out to sea by offshore winds.

During one of the worse incidents the lifeboat rescued 50 children in the space of one day.

Richard was presented with a Bar to his Gold Badge along with a certificate at a recent presentation by Regional Operation Manager Andrew Ashton at Rye Harbour Social Club.

The certificate citation read ‘The Council of The Royal National Lifeboat Institution wish to record their sincere thanks to Richard J Tollett of the Rye Harbour Station Branch by the award of the RNLI’s Bar to the Gold Badge in recognition of his valuable support of the lifeboat service’.

Richard joined the Crew at Rye Harbour Lifeboat Station on 20 May 1968, serving until 28 February 1986. During this time the lifeboat was launched 308 times saving 90 lives.

Richard then became the stations 4th Honorary Secretary. In September 1995 Richard became the first Lifeboat Operations Manager at the station when the position of Honorary Secretary was amalgamated into the new role.

Over the 45 years, Richard has seen many changes. When he joined, the station boat was a D class inflatable which was operational from March to October and the boat was housed in a wooden Hardun hut.

In 1985 a new brick constructed boat house was built and in 1986 a new C class inflatable lifeboat was placed on station. It was during the trials of the C class boat that Richard and the then Divisional Inspector, Mike Pennell, broke their wrists in exactly the same place.

The current boathouse was built in 1995 and in 1996 the station was upgraded to an Atlantic lifeboat station that is now operational 365 days a year.

Richard was due to receive the award at the RNLI Annual Awards at the Barbican in London earlier in the year but was unable to attend due to family commitments.

Steve Tollett, Chairman, Rye Harbour Station Branch said: “During Richard’s time at Rye Harbour there must be many people who have been rescued who owe a debt of gratitude to him and the past and present volunteer crew.

“On behalf of everyone at Rye Harbour Lifeboat station I would like to offer our most sincere congratulations on Richard’s award of the RNLI’s Bar to his Gold Badge and also for all he has done and continues to do towards the cause of saving lives at sea.”

The RNLI has saved over 137,000 lives since being formed in 1824.