‘End of an era’ as Happisburgh lifeboatman retires

A long serving member of Happisburgh's lifeboat crew is hanging up his waterproofs tonight after more than 32 years at the helm.

Cubitt Siely joined the station in 1979 at a time when it only operated from Easter to October and during daylight hours.

Since his first years as a crewman he has seen many changes to the station - including the introduction of 24 hour operation and the arrival of the Atlantic 75 lifeboat - and has worked his way up to senior helmsman.

But tonight he is taking part in his final training session with fellow volunteers, who described his retirement as the 'end of an era'.

One of the first callouts Mr Siely attended was to an inflatable boat spotted drifting near Walcott. Once the crew pulled alongside the dinghy they found a seven-year-old girl in floods of tears, which brought home to the dad why he joined the RNLI 'family'.

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Another memorable call was to a dive boat two and a half miles off the coast, which had lost nine divers. He and the crew rushed to the scene, along with Cromer and Sheringham lifeboats, but Happisburgh was first on scene.

Mr Siely and his team quickly recovered seven of the missing divers, which were squeezed on board the D-class lifeboat. The helmsman then went on to coordinate the other lifeboats and a helicopter so the two remaining divers were quickly found.

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Although he will be sorely missed from the crew Mr Siely will not be lost from the team at Happisburgh as he is now taking on the role of training coordinator. And the Siely name will be kept on the crew list as his son Cubitt junior, 17, will soon be joining sister Charlotte on callouts.

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