Caister lifeboatmen receive ‘icing on the cake’ with royal award

A celebrated lifeboat crew have received the 'icing on the cake' - following a purple patch of service - after being handed a prestigious royal award.

Caister's lifeboat team scooped a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service at a special presentation ceremony for their invaluable work with the community and on the coast.

Its volunteer crew and directors were nominated for the distinguished accolade by the public and pipped three other regional voluntary groups to the post to be presented with the award.

The accolade - the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups - comes as the crew have been enjoying a period of recognition.

In April three lifeboat men were presented with Royal Humane Society certificates for saving the life of 15-year-old Paige Anderson, who was buried alive on Caister beach after the tunnel she was building in the sand collapsed.

The following month secretary Derek George and second coxswain Thomas Williams travelled to Buckingham Palace to attended the Queen's garden party, and on Sunday the lifeboat and 13 crew are heading back to London to take part in the Diamond Jubilee pageant along the River Thames with a flotilla of 999 other ships.

But the exciting exposure does not stop there as the team of life saving seafarers are also set to feature in the BBC series Coast on Sunday and next month lifeboat chairman Paul Garrod will be a guest at the Queen's garden party at Sandringham.

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He said: 'We unashamedly seek publicity but this is beyond our wildest dreams. I am very proud of all who are part of our team or support us in maintaining the service to mariners that we provide every day of every year. The award is clearly for all these people.'

Mr George, whose great-great-grandfather was lost in the 1901 Caister lifeboat disaster, said the voluntary award was the 'icing on the cake' for all the staff after an 'eventful' few months.

He added: 'My family and I are huge supporters of the Queen and to receive the Queen's award is special, to receive it in her diamond jubilee year is extra special.

'It is gratifying too that the work done by today's lifeboat men is valued as much as it was a century ago when they were considered to be heroes.'

The lifeboat was nominated along with Gorleston Coastwatch, the Rural Coffee Caravan, based in Diss, and Sing Your Heart Out - community singing workshops held throughout Norfolk and Suffolk.

Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson, who sat on the judging panel, named the crew as the overall winner and they can now advertise the accolade on their vessels, paperwork and boat sheds.

Mr George said: 'We were honoured to be nominated and I don't think we would have presumed to have got it. We shall certainly use it to our advantage.'

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