Lifeboat memories man Frank steps down

For Frank Muirhead, the RNLI has been a way of life and, as he stepped down as honorary archivist of Cromer's Henry Blogg museum at the weekend, the former postman's contribution to the town's seafaring history was marked with the presentation of certificate of service and a camcorder at a party held in his honour.

For Frank Muirhead, the RNLI has been a way of life and, as he stepped down as honorary archivist of Cromer's Henry Blogg museum at the weekend, the former postman's contribution to the town's seafaring history was marked with the presentation of certificate of service and a camcorder at a party held in his honour.

As a youngster, Frank watched the boat launch from the end of the pier and dreamed of being on board.

"Other boys at school said they wanted to be an engine driver or a fireman but all I wanted to do was to be a lifeboatman," he said. National Service, followed by five years in the RAF, temporarily put paid to Frank's ambition to join the lifeboat. But, in 1973, aged 37, his wish finally came true when he signed up as a crew member at the time when his friend, lifeboat hero Henry "Shrimp" Davies was coxswain.

Ten years, and dozens of rescues later, Frank joined the all-weather crew and, when he retired as a crew member in 1991, he stayed on at Cromer as a shore helper.


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After completing a 22-year stint as a postman, Frank took over the running of the town's 1898 boathouse, which was turned into a museum housing the H F Bailey lifeboat when a new boathouse was built at the end of the pier in 1998.

He attended regeneration meetings when the idea of the a new seafront museum was first put forward, and was involved in picking out the site - the former Rocket House caf� at the end of the Gangway.

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The Henry Blogg museum was opened in April 2006, with Frank, who also previously ran the local branch of the Air Training Corps and sat on Cromer carnival committee, made honorary archivist.

Until last year when he scaled back his hours, Frank was on hand at the museum nearly every day - helping identify donations and set up displays, giving talks to visitors and school groups and helping clean and restore the H F Bailey.

Among the museum's exhibits are some of the hundreds of lifeboat-related photographs, newspaper cuttings and other items of memorabilia that Frank, 73, has collected over the years.

He has also recorded hundreds of hours of film, charting RNLI events ranging from boat launches to naming ceremonies.

In retirement, Frank, who has four children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, plans to edit his video recordings and spend more time with his wife Shirley.

But, as a member of a RNLI research group, he plans continue to help out at the museum.

'I feel very proud to have been so closely involved with the RNLI,' he said. 'The lifeboat is the pride of Cromer and, as well as being one of the premier services in the country, having such a fantastic museum, we probably are one of the most well-equipped.'

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