Hats off to Cromer lifeboat crew’s rescue skills

Prince Charming picked up Cinderella's abandoned slipper and trawled his kingdom until he found the only foot it fitted.

And in a nautical variation on the famous fairytale, Cromer's lifeboat crew have also come to the rescue of a mislaid fashion accessory and are hoping their story will have a similarly happy ending.

Rather than a sparkling crystal slipper, the Cromer version involves a soggy, salty hat.

And it was not left behind as its owner fled a ballroom at midnight. Instead, a wicked wind whipped it off a man's head and tossed it into the sea as he stood at the end of the pier, watching the lifeboat manoeuvring below on its return from a training session.

Unknown to the hatless spectator, gallant crew member Ady Woods and his colleagues put their well-honed rescue skills into operation and set about hauling the hat on board, using a boat hook.

Having put so much effort into saving the headgear from a watery grave, the crew would love to reunite it with the owner, especially as they believe it may have cost him quite a bit of money.

The brown trilby bears the label of long-established London hatters Christys whose creations have topped off many a well-to-do head, including those whose choice of headwear includes the odd crown.

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According to the label it is handmade in 100pc wool and is size seven and one-eighth.

Jim Page was in the lifeboat station when the man lost the hat and remembers that he asked if it could be hooked ashore from the slipway, but it had floated beyond reach.

'He made quite a fuss about it so I think he really would like it back. We radioed the boat and when they did pick it up there was quite a crowd gathered who were cheering and clapping – but the owner had gone,' said Mr Page, who is treasurer of the lifeboat.

He described the man as well-spoken, fairly tall, thick set and in late middle-age.

Anyone with information about the owner should ring 07771 573319.