100-year-old joins Sidmouth Lifeboat crew

Bit it’s only a birthday treat for oldest volunteer Alan

SIDMOUTH’S lifeboat crew will welcome aboard an unlikely new addition tomorrow- 100-year-old Alan Charlton.

The independent service’s oldest volunteer has been a valued member of its support team for 15 years, but has never been out on the boat.

Centenarian Alan will get a birthday present with a difference when he finally takes to the sea as a thank-you for years of dedication to the life-saving cause.

“I’ve only ever been on pleasure boats. I expect this will be a bit different,” he said.

“I’ve had to sign an indemnity but I’ll be providing my own waterproofs.”

Vicarage Road resident Alan became the lifeboat’s first support team recruit 15 years ago after he read an appeal for volunteers in the Sidmouth Herald.

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“I’ve always been interested in the boat but realised I was too old to be a crew member. I’ve always wanted to go out in the lifeboat,” he said.

“When they suggested it to me it was quite a surprise, but I agreed straight away.

“It’ll be one of the highlights of my day.

“I’m a bit apprehensive, but know the crew will take good care of me. They’ve said they’re not going to go faster than 10 miles per hour. I can’t walk very well but they’ve promised not to drop me.”

Retired engineer Alan will take a special ride in the town’s famous Toastrack at around 1.45pm tomorrow, and residents have been encouraged to gather on The Esplanade to wish him well. His lifeboat trip will take place weather permitting.

Alan turned out in all weathers to welcome visitors to the Lifeboat Station and only recently stopped helping there two times a week

“I’ve loved being in the boat house, showing people round, telling them the story and selling them anything I could,” he said.

“It’s a very good, lifesaving service I’m proud to be involved with.”

Sidmouth Lifeboat spokesperson Mark Roden said: “We’re heavily indebted to Alan for all his hard work and unwavering commitment.

“Our support team are privileged to have his services and we all look forward to his 100th birthday celebrations tomorrow (Saturday, May 28.).”