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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Rescue honours for Workington lifeboat crew members

A lifeboat volunteer honoured for saving a fisherman’s life has shrugged off his accolade, insisting: “It’s all in a day’s work.”

Veteran RNLI crewman John Stobbart is one of two men who have received high-level praise for their actions in rescuing a fishing boat in terrible conditions.

The vessel was being battered against Whitehaven harbour’s north pier in 50mph winds and strong waves with one of the men on-board lying unconscious.

Mr Stobbart, 53, and fellow volunteer Andy Rodgers responded rapidly, steering Workington’s RNLI lifeboat to the scene, treating the injured man and towing the stricken boat to safety.

Their heroics have been honoured by the charity but Mr Stobbart, 53, told the News & Star that he and his team treated their daring mission as they would any other call-out. He said: “You just take them as they come.”

Certificates acknowledging their heroics were presented by RNLI operations director Michael Vlasto in Workington yesterday.

Both Mr Stobbart and Mr Rodgers were in Workington on December 7, 2011, when they received a call to help the boat George Lou-N. It had suffered a motor failure and was being battered in heavy waves.

They jumped onto a lifeboat and went straight to the harbour.

When they arrived, Mr Rodgers, at great personal risk, jumped from the lifeboat onto the fishing vessel and found one of the men on board had been knocked out and needed urgent medical attention.

He had been hit by a rope, which had cut his face open. The blood had clotted, but he was unconscious.

Mr Rodgers performed first aid on the man, who was from Eastern Europe.

While this was going on, Mr Stobbart took the fishing vessel in tow and got it back to shore without any major damage.

The injured man was seen immediately by paramedics before being taken to hospital, where he was in an induced coma.

He survived his injuries, and returned to his home country soon afterwards.

Mr Stobbart is the crew’s coxswain and has been an RNLI volunteer for 26 years.

“Of course, it is great to be honoured. I’m quite humbled,” he said.

“But we don’t do this to get awards, we do it because it’s worth doing and we want to do it.”

Mr Stobbart was extremely keen to stress that the prize was for everyone who played a part that day.

“It’s about the team and all of the guys.”

There were about seven people on the lifeboat when the rescue was carried out.

Praising the conduct of the crew at Whitehaven harbour, the RNLI said Mr Stobbart demonstrated “remarkable boat handling” skills and leadership.

They added: “Under Coxswain Stobbart’s command, the lifeboat towed the vessel to safety, contending with waves up to four metres and the difficulty involved in operating within the confined space of the harbour.”

Once in the inner harbour, Coxswain Stobbart used the lifeboat to skilfully nudge the trawler, which had seven other crew on board, into position beside the inner harbour wall, where it was secured.

Sarah Nimmo-Scott, RNLI deputy divisional inspector, said the actions of Mr Stobbart, Mr Rodgers and the volunteer crew saved the man’s life, and also saved the vessel. “The actions of Andy Rodgers were selfless and brave,” she said.

Mr Stobbart was also rewarded for his role in bringing a yacht back to harbour after crew members became too sick to control it in 2012. Stephen McAllister, also a Workington volunteer, also received a commendation.

Ten other volunteers received citations.

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