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Deputy launch authority (DLA) Allan Little has retired after 35 years volunteering with the RNLI on Arran.
The milestone, and sad occasion, was marked by the entire crew of the lifeboat station in Lamlash when they presented him with a special gift at one of their final training sessions before coronavirus curbed regular training events.
Born and raised on the island in Lamlash, where he has lived all his life, Allan has finally been forced to retire having turned 70 last month.
He joined the crew in 1985 to give something back to the community. Over the years, there is hardly a position within the RNLI he has not held. He has been crew, helm, tractor driver and press officer among many other positions. His knowledge and versatility has ensured he has been an integral part of the team.
These factors, along with his friendly disposition, means he will be much missed by his colleagues.
Over the years Allan has experienced many shocking and heart-warming incidents but the ones that stand out most for him are the amusing ones.
One memorable rescue was when he was part of the crew which responded to a call out in Brodick Bay where a speedboat was out of control and circling towards the shore. The sailor had ‘abandoned ship’ and it was up to the crew to work out how to get to the boat to cut the engine whilst it was speeding around the bay. They settled on the idea of strapping the paddles on the lifeboat together and getting close enough to the boat to hit the throttle lever on its next pass. Luckily their timing was perfect and their plan worked.
Another memory was the time he found himself being ‘rescued’ by his crew mates. Whilst out in Lamlash Bay on his boat with his children, they spotted a harbour porpoise and he suggested they hit the water gently with the paddle to attract its attention. While they were busy with this, Allan leant over the side of the boat to try and fix the engine which needed attention. Unbeknown to Allan, his children waved the paddle in the air which was seen as a distress signal from some well-meaning people on the shore who immediately alerted the coastguard. He greeted the lifeboat crew by asking where they were on their way to, only to discover they were there to ‘rescue’ him!
When speaking about how things had changed over the years, Allan remarked on how things are more structured now and how impressed he is with the amount of training the crew undertakes to keep themselves, and their casualties safe, and to make sure they know what to do in just about any circumstances.
Allan says he has experienced good times and bad times, such as when they were really short on crew, but he is pleased to see new, committed people coming through to ensure the station can continue to provide essential life-saving work.
But mostly he remembers his time as a volunteer crew member for 35 years as an adventure made so enjoyable and memorable because of his fellow crew volunteers.