'He loved his job' - Popular Cromer lifeboatman dies aged 93

Donald 'Donny' Abbs who has died aged 93

Donald 'Donny' Abbs who has died aged 93. Mr Abbs was a well-known figure in Cromer and a founding helmsman of the town's Inshore lifeboat. - Credit: The Abbs Family

A founding helmsman of Cromer's Inshore lifeboat, who loved sharing stories of his time at sea, has died aged 93.

Donald Abbs, known as Donny, was a "universally popular" Cromer character who loved the seaside town he called home, he would only dress in blue and was rarely seen without his pipe or RNLI blazer.

Donald 'Donny' Abbs from Cromer who has died aged 93.

Donald 'Donny' Abbs who has died aged 93. Mr Abbs was a well-known figure in Cromer and a founding helmsman of the town's Inshore lifeboat. - Credit: The Abbs Family

Born in East Runton on June 4, 1927, Mr Abbs left school with no qualifications to take up an apprenticeship as a plumber at Childs and Spinks, a Cromer building company where he worked for a number of years before moving to GW Humphrey of Wyndham Park.

Over the years he had a number of jobs ranging from working on the then 'new' Bacton gas terminal and the post office in Louden Road, Cromer.

Away from work, he was a keen rollerskater, playing roller hockey and often skated at Cromer's Rollerdrome in Garden Street, where he would go with Bridget, who he married in 1959.

Donny Abbs, from Cromer, picture in a roller hockey team picture taken in 1950. Mr Abbs is second front left

Away from work, Donny Abbs, was a keen rollerskater, playing roller hockey and often found skating at Cromer's Rollerdrome in Garden Street. Mr Abbs can be seen here sitting in the front row second from left. - Credit: The Abbs Family

In 1967, Mr Abbs became one of the founding helmsmen of Cromer's Inshore lifeboat, also joining the crew of the All-weather lifeboat in 1972 serving under Coxswain Henry 'Shrimp' Davies.

In 1977,  aged 50 and in line with RNLI age restrictions, he was forced to retire from the Inshore lifeboat but remained on the crew of the All-weather boat becoming station mechanic and radio operator in 1979.

Donald Abbs with Cromer RNLI pictured second front from left.

In 1967, Donny Abbs became one of the founding helmsmen of Cromer's Inshore lifeboat, also joining the crew of the All-weather lifeboat in 1972 serving under Coxswain Henry 'Shrimp' Davies. Mr Abbs is picture second front from left - Credit: The Abbs Family

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Upon his retirement from the lifeboat, he received the RNLI's 'Thanks in Vellum', and a long service badge in 1987. 

David, Michael and Peter Abbs, Mr Abbs' sons said their father "loved his job at the end of the pier" and could be found in the boathouse from dawn to dusk.

They said: "If the local boats were at sea he was always on “lookout” until the last boat returned safely to the beach.

"Ever the joker, he was always pulling stunts with the local fishing community and the crew, often finding himself on the receiving end too, most of which would not have got away with nowadays.

"Rarely was he seen without his beloved pipe in his mouth ready for the obligatory Popeye impression. Right up to the day he passed, he would only dress in blue and religiously wore his RNLI blazer. "

Donald 'Donny' Abbs pictured overlooking Cromer Pier, Mr Abbs has died aged 93.

Upon his retirement from the lifeboat, Donny Abbs received the RNLI's 'Thanks in Vellum, and a long service badge in 1987. - Credit: The Abbs Family

Mr Abbs, died on March 24, leaving his three sons, 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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