‘The changes are unbelievable’: Cromer lifeboat volunteer looks back on six decades of service
PUBLISHED: 17:52 13 September 2020 | UPDATED: 17:52 13 September 2020
From jumping in a lifeboat in his swimming trunks to advancements in technology and health and safety regulations, Ted Luckin has seen a lot of changes during his 60 years of service with Cromer RNLI.
The 91-year-old who has always lived in Cromer was first invited to join the town’s lifeboat crew in 1960 by coxswains ‘Tuna’ Harrison and ‘Shrimp’ Davies.
At the time, it was an unusual invitation, as crew members were almost always fishermen, but while Mr Luckin was a not fisherman he did work as a mechanic fixing boats, including Henry Blogg’s boat and knew all the fishermen in the town well.
Mr Luckin said: “I was a boat engineer at the East Coast Motor company I used to do a lot of work on the boats, repairing them down with all the fishermen.
“So when the tractor driver retired, ‘Tuna’ Harrison and ‘Shrimp’ Davies asked me if I would like to take on the role of tractor driver for launching. In them days you couldn’t get onto the lifeboat unless you were involved with fishermen, you couldn’t get invited on.
“When I joined there were only three people [who weren’t] fishermen in the crew, myself, a sign-writer who was a fire service officer and another man who was a chef at the Red Lion,” he said.
For the next 40 years Mr Luckin volunteered as a crew member starting out as a tractor driver and maintenance mechanic before being appointed winchman.
In 1965, he was made senior helmsman of the town’s new inshore lifeboat (ILB) a position he held for 12 years during which time he carried out more than 60 service calls.
Of the shouts he attended Mr Luckin said the vast majority involved swimmers getting into difficulty, medical evacuations or boats needing assistance.
He said; “In them days, there were no lifeguards as such, it would be people seeing things, talking about it, alerting and calling the coastguard.
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“Two of the services were fatals but all the others were swimmers, people getting carried out on inflatables, boats capsizing, boats breaking down and some of the time bringing in boats and repairing them so they could go on their way.”
Mr Luckin said: “You’re helping someone who can’t help themselves, that’s what it amounts to.
“They’re in a muddle one way or another. We had two or three calls of people hanging onto the stanchions under the pier, basically you just go and help them because they can’t help themselves.
“You don’t make no money out of the job. You do it because you’re interested in it,” he said.
Mr Luckin retired as a crew member in 2000 after 40 years of active service, but he didn’t stop volunteering completely and he has since looked after the appearance and cleanliness of the main boathouse as well as serving as treasurer of the Cromer RNLI crew fund.
He said over his 60 years of involvement with Cromer RNLI he’d seen huge changes: “It’s unbelievable how much it’s changed really. It’s all health and safety now, which it does make it more difficult for them to get away, there are all these regulations, where as we used to just go.
“I did one service where I was on the beach with my wife and children and I went along in my bathing suit to Sheringham,” he said.
Recently receiving a long service medal recognising his 60 years of volunteering, Mr Luckin said he had no plans to fully retire and would keep going as long as he could.
“I’ll keep going, my knees aren’t so good now, the biggest job I have to do [at the boat house] is clean the brasses.
“I’ll keep going as long as a I can, I look forward to going down there every morning, meeting people you’ve known for years, old crew members come in, and have a cup of coffee down there.
“I should carry on as long as I can walk along the end of the pier,” he said.
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