Norfolk lifeguard from Poringland awarded in recognition of long service

A Poringland man who has been a lifeguard for more than 50 years has rewarded for his dedication to keeping people safe in and around our beaches and pools.

Peter Dukes, 79, from Oak Avenue, who has been involved in lifeguarding since the mid 1950s, has been awarded a long service medal and medal of honour by the Royal Life Saving Society UK. Mr Dukes, one of the founder members of the Norwich Volunteer Lifeguard Corps which disbanded in about 2003/04, said he was delighted to receive his awards in London at the end of last month.

The father of two and grandfather of four, who was nominated for the awards by the Suffolk branch and eastern region branch of the Royal Life Saving Society, and had some members of his family at the ceremony, said: 'I was absolutely over the moon that they did this. It was a wonderful day. It's nice that they thought that much of me – I just hope I can still continue to the work.'

Mr Dukes, who is vice president of the Lowestoft Volunteer Lifeguard Corps, started his lifeguarding career when he left the Royal Navy. He said: 'I was doing voluntary duties at Bacton and Mundesley and then went around to Sheringham where I did 25 years and then Winterton.

'The more serious side of lifeguarding took on in 1966 to 1967 because there were a lot of drownings at Mundesley, and in 1967 we formed the Norwich Volunteer Lifeguarding Corps, made up of members of swimming clubs and people with swimming qualifications. We all got together and formed a club to go to Mundesley and help out there because there were several drownings and we were worried about it.'

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He said he has helped protect most of the Norfolk coast since the mid 1950s and for the past 12 years has also been keeping people safe on parts of the Suffolk coast at Lowestoft.

Mr Dukes, who swims three times a week at the pool at the Oasis in Thorpe St Andrew, is also a pool lifeguard as well as assessor and examiner who has worked at almost every pool in the Norwich area.

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He said: 'I think I'm one of a rare breed. I'm coming up to 80 and managing to do swimming pool lifeguarding duties and also beaches. I'm still able to do it and get on well with all the crew – they are a lovely bunch at Lowestoft.'

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