Lifeboat volunteer is “great loss” to Sidmouth

Originator of Sidmouth Lifeboat volunteers dies aged 90

CREW from Sidmouth Lifeboat will say goodbye to the man who organised its band of volunteers, when funeral directors transport his coffin past the seafront lifeboat station next Thursday.

Freddy Wedderburn, whose wife Jean is one of two sisters to Harry Noel Barwick, OBE, FRICS, FCIH, who died at Holmesley Nursing Home last Wednesday, aged 90, said: “After moving to Sidmouth in 2001, Noel soon offered to help raise funds for Sidmouth’s own lifeboat by enabling the station to be opened regularly for visitors and so provide an important source of income that had never been possible before.”

Enlisting the help of Ian and Sue Wyley, Ted Hollis, Alan Charlton, John Ward, Jim Keane and others, meant Noel could open the lifeboat station seven days a week, allowing vital income to be made from the sale of souvenirs and from donations.

“Noel personally visited the station on most days to encourage his colleagues, but also managed to find some time to enjoy the sunshine in a deckchair,” said Freddy.

“For nine years he has served our lifeboat well and will be sadly missed by all his friends and colleagues.”

Noel was born in Hastings and devoted his working life to social housing, working in local government.

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He was the first secretary of the Hanover Housing Association, then director of the Guinness Trust and was made an OBE for his work in social housing.

In 1938 he and five friends joined the Territorial Army and they were sent to Suez in 1941 to relieve Tobruk.

He was involved in the Alamein battle, fighting with the Eighth Army against Rommel.

He left in 1943 and eventually returned to the UK in 1944. However, his war was not over and his squadron regrouped for training before taking part in the D-Day landings in France.

Noel’s son-in-law Eddie Brant said: “Noel spent most of his active service…as a signal/radio operator. To make room for the signals equipment most of the tank’s armament had to be removed. To make the tank look real, a wooden gun was fitted.

Sidmouthian Graham Liverton, former president of Sidmouth Independent Lifeboat, said of Noel: “He was responsible for getting our patron, Judi Spiers. I had great respect for him, he really had energy, vim and vigour and worked jolly hard for a man of that age.

“He should be admired for what he did. He was one of those people Sidmouth is very grateful for. Whatever he did he did well. I am sorry he has gone, he is a great loss to the Lifeboat and to Sidmouth.”

Noel leaves two daughters Janice and Linda, four grandchildren, four great grandchildren and two sisters. They will attend a thanksgiving service at Sidmouth Methodist Church at 2pm on Thursday, September 30, following private cremation.