'He loved his job' - Popular Cromer lifeboatman dies aged 93
- 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.
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.
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.
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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. "
Mr Abbs, died on March 24, leaving his three sons, 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.