He once swam the English Channel and spent his career fighting fires, and now Peter Walker is ready for a new water-based challenge. 

Mr Walker has just passed a series of exams and practical tests to become the latest helmsman of Happisburgh RNLI’s D-Class lifeboat Russell Pickering.

He said he was thrilled about taking on the volunteer role.

Mr Walker said: “I am passionate about the service and the way it runs as a charitable organisation and have tried to support them all my life. 

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“I first became aware and fascinated by the institution as a child, visiting Clacton-on-Sea’s lifeboat at the end of the pier when visiting grandparents, always chucking some of my pocket money in their bucket. Later, I donated money monthly.”

Mr Walker undertook fundraisers including swimming the channel solo in 2009 - with part of the proceeds going to the RNLI. 

He said he had always wanted to volunteer for the lifeboats but never lived in the right place to do so. 

Mr Walker said: “Covid changed that when, after my retirement, my plans were scuppered and I ended up moving to Norfolk in December 2020, an area I was unfamiliar with. 

“I quickly stumbled upon Happisburgh Lifeboat Station and offered my services, thinking I’d be too old, too far away and they’d already have enough crew. 

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“None of that was true, and they welcomed me with open arms.”

Mr Walker said he wanted to thank his wife and everyone at the station for their support. 

Rachael Kirkham, Happisburgh’s lifeboat operations manager, said: “I'm very pleased for Peter and thank him for all his hard work. 

“We are always looking for new volunteers to join our crew at Happisburgh in many roles.”

Anyone interested can call 01692 583269, email Happisburgh@rnli.org.uk, or visit the station at Cart Gap during training on Sunday mornings and Tuesday evenings.