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Long-serving Norfolk lifeboatman retires after 57 years voluntary service

PUBLISHED: 06:30 06 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:38 06 January 2019

Trevor Holsey, retiring from 57 years service with the RNLI at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Trevor Holsey, retiring from 57 years service with the RNLI at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

He has been faced with everything from burning boats to floating umbrellas in his long service as a Norfolk lifeboatman.

But now, after 57 years as a volunteer with the Sheringham RNLI, Trevor Holsey has finally decided to call it a day.

Mr Holsey, 75, said: “I’m pleased with what I’ve done and I think I’ve served the local community well. I didn’t have to stand down, but after being on call virtually every day, I can sleep well at night.”

Mr Holsey, who lives in Beeston Regis, retired from his lifelong career as a crab fisherman about five years ago. It was a job practically all lifeboat volunteers had when he started at the station in 1961.

He said: “It was all fishermen then, but we did have two or three shore-based people because if we were all at sea and it was swelly, someone would have to come after us to bring the crab boats home.

Trevor Holsey, retiring from 57 years service with the RNLI at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYTrevor Holsey, retiring from 57 years service with the RNLI at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Now they come from all walks of life: electricians, painters, plumbers, you name it, and every station’s like that.”

Mr Holsey was a crew member and then the station’s deputy coxswain for three years, facing all kinds of challenges on the waves.

He remembers one incident: “There was a boat heading to Yarmouth called Restless Wave, and I think the boiler just exploded. We launched after him just after midnight and put the fire out, it was in the galley so it didn’t affect his engines.

“Another time someone had thought an inflatable had gone out to sea. We thought there could have been a young child on there, but when we got alongside, we realised it was just an umbrella.”

Trevor Holsey, retiring from 57 years service with the RNLI at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYTrevor Holsey, retiring from 57 years service with the RNLI at Sheringham. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Holsey said they also made regular trips out to the lightships, which used to be moored 19 miles out at intervals right around the British coast for ships’ navigation.

He said: “In those days they’d have five or six men on them for a month at a time. But by the end of the month, sometimes one of them would go a bit berserk and we’d have to go out and pick them up. Now they’re all automatic and there’s no crew on them at all.”

Mr Holsey became a deputy launching authority (DLA) after the station lost its all-weather lifeboat in 1992. The station has since operated with an in-shore lifeboat.

He said one of the biggest challenges of the role, which supports the lifeboat operations manager (LOM), was making the decision to send out a rescue boat.

Images taken from a new book about Sheringham Life boat station.

Pictured is the lifeboat crew with The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows outside the lifeboat house. 

They are, back row left to right: C. Ayers, Trevor Holsey, P. Scotter, K. Holloway, B. Wink, David Mann, E. Craske, D. Little, Henry ‘Joyful’ West, E. Wink, S. White, A. Scotter, R. Little, P. Wegg, R. Hill, Terry Simmons, A. Cairn, B. Rushmer, B. White. 

Front row, left to right: Bennett Middleton, J. West, Bennett Middleton jnr, B. Thirtle, and Brian Pegg. 

By courtesy of Mrs E. West.

For Mary Hamiliton.Images taken from a new book about Sheringham Life boat station. Pictured is the lifeboat crew with The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows outside the lifeboat house. They are, back row left to right: C. Ayers, Trevor Holsey, P. Scotter, K. Holloway, B. Wink, David Mann, E. Craske, D. Little, Henry ‘Joyful’ West, E. Wink, S. White, A. Scotter, R. Little, P. Wegg, R. Hill, Terry Simmons, A. Cairn, B. Rushmer, B. White. Front row, left to right: Bennett Middleton, J. West, Bennett Middleton jnr, B. Thirtle, and Brian Pegg. By courtesy of Mrs E. West. For Mary Hamiliton.

He said: “We’ve got four lives there in the boat and if it’s a nasty night we have to decide if we’re going to launch and maybe lose those lives, or just rescue one or none. It’s a lot of responsibility on the shoulders.”

Praise for Mr Holsey: “Experience that just can’t be bought”

Mr Holsey is married to Marilyn and has two children and two grandchildren. He said he planned to do some travelling now he had more free time.

“We’ve got a campervan out the back,” he said.

The arrival of the brand new lifeboat in 1961 at Sheringham, The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, with Trevor Holsey, front third left in the cap. Picture: Courtesy of Sheringham RNLIThe arrival of the brand new lifeboat in 1961 at Sheringham, The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, with Trevor Holsey, front third left in the cap. Picture: Courtesy of Sheringham RNLI

But the long-serving volunteer will not become a stranger to the Sheringham station, where LOM Brian Farrow said he would always be held in high regard.

Mr Farrow said: “He is a great supporter of the tradition of the RNLI.

“What you have in Trevor is many years of experience, which is something that just can’t be bought.

“He really understands the weather and is able, as are all the older fishermen, to recognise where they are by the landmarks, and they know the seabed well.

Images taken from a new book about Sheringham Life boat station.

Pictured is the crew of the Lloyds ll following the final launch from Sheringham, Lloyds II was taken to Lowestoft on 18 April 1992 by a crew of, back row left to right: Nick Knights, David Mann, Billy White and Chris Ayers; front row, left to right: Billy Thirtle, Paul Wegg, Trevor Holsey and David McKnespiey. 

Courtesy of Paul Russell.

For Mary Hamiliton.Images taken from a new book about Sheringham Life boat station. Pictured is the crew of the Lloyds ll following the final launch from Sheringham, Lloyds II was taken to Lowestoft on 18 April 1992 by a crew of, back row left to right: Nick Knights, David Mann, Billy White and Chris Ayers; front row, left to right: Billy Thirtle, Paul Wegg, Trevor Holsey and David McKnespiey. Courtesy of Paul Russell. For Mary Hamiliton.

“He also understands the waves and the tides, and can tell if there’s a change coming around the corner.

“He has probably forgotten more things than most of us ever knew.”

Trevor Holsey at Sheringham Lifeboat Station in 1992. Picture: COURTESY OF MR HOLSEYTrevor Holsey at Sheringham Lifeboat Station in 1992. Picture: COURTESY OF MR HOLSEY

Trevor Holsey at Sheringham Lifeboat Station in 1992. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARYTrevor Holsey at Sheringham Lifeboat Station in 1992. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY

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