Decorated Somerset RNLI lifeboat stalwart recognised in Queen’s New Year Honours

Richard Spindler

Richard Spindler

Decorated Somerset RNLI lifeboat stalwart recognised in Queen’s New Year Honours

A long-serving lifeboat volunteer based at Weston-super-Mare lifeboat station and already decorated for his part in a daring rescue in 1978, is to be recognised in this year’s New Year Honours.

Richard Spindler, a volunteer of 50 years standing at Weston-super-Mare lifeboat station is to be recognised for his contribution to saving lives at sea.

As soon as he was old enough, Richard Spindler, now 67, volunteered at Weston-super-Mare lifeboat station. As a 17-year-old, he learnt the skills he needed to save lives on the lifeboat and remained committed to the station and its local community for the next 50 years, earning several bravery awards for rescues in extreme conditions.

During a fierce gale in November 1978, Richard helped rescue three boys and two men trapped in a cave by the rising tide. He braved breaking surf and darkness and was awarded a Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum for his courage. Eight years later he was awarded another Vellum for a similar rescue. He retired as active boat crew in 1996 to take on the role of Deputy Launching Authority and becoming part of the team responsible for launching the lifeboat instead. During his time on the lifeboats, 218 lives were saved by the station’s volunteers.

As a charity, the RNLI depends on donations, and Richard is also a dedicated and enthusiastic fundraiser. He also uses his experiences on the lifeboat to inspire young people and teach them about sea safety.

As well as his service with the RNLI Richard spent 17 years as a Cub Scout leader in Weston ensuring the children learnt how to use the sea safely.

Paul Boissier, RNLI Chief Executive, said: ‘Richard’s dedication to the RNLI is inspirational and humbling. Not only has he saved lives at sea directly during his time on the lifeboat, but he continues to do so through his fundraising efforts. I’m delighted that Richard’s exceptional commitment has been recognised with an honour.’

Richard Spindler said: ‘I’m honoured to receive this award. To me this is an award to the team. Over the years I have served with many lifeboat crew and I could not have done what I did without them. I have always been proud to be a part of the RNLI and always will be.….

•    Richard Spindler has been awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to Maritime Safety.
•    Photo shows Richard Spindler, credit RNLI.
•    Other RNLI awardees:
o    Ray Chapman, Coxswain, RNLI Skegness – MBE
o    David Whiteley, Coxswain, RNLI Hoylake – BEM
o    Lady Rose Crossman, Fundraising President of Berwick-upon-Tweed RNLI Guild – MBE
o    Janet Kelly, Station Manager (rtd), RNLI Tower – MBE
•    The British Empire Medal (BEM), recently revived by David Cameron after being phased out during John Major’s term in office, is awarded to people for work in their local community.
•    The Member of the Order of the British Empire recognises distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds. There are five grades, as well as the recently added British Empire Medal (BEM)
o    Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GBE)
o    Knight Commander or Dame Commander (KBE or DBE)
o    Commander (CBE)
o    Officer (OBE)
o    Member (MBE)

He travelled up to London on Monday with his wife, Sue, eldest son and brother. Early Tuesday morning they arrived at the Palace and were immediately impressed by the architecture and its grandeur. The guests watched as Richard was awarded his MBE by His Royal Highness, Prince William. Richard was introduced as Richard Spindler of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

On seeing Richard’s RNLI crew tie the Prince began a conversation about Search and Rescue saying how he loved the RNLI. He said that the RNLI was one of his favourite charities. They talked about helicopters for some time until Richard was dismissed.

After photographs, including with the Yeoman Warders, the party left for Whitehall. Outside Downing Street they were met by Mr John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare. He took them into Downing Street and Richard posed outside no 10.
On Wednesday they had a tour of the Palace of Westminster including the chambers of the Commons and Lords. They then had to catch a train back to reality and Weston-super-Mare.

Charlotte Conroy, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Weston said; ‘Richard (Spin) is my deputy and my right hand man. We run one of the most successful lifeboat stations in the UK and it would not work without Spin. I am delighted he has received this honour, it is very well deserved.’

Spin said; ‘ It was a truly amazing experience. You see these places and people on television but it was wonderful to see them in real life. I still believe my award was because of the marvellous team at Weston RNLI who I have worked with over 50 years.’12871453_10153340807386561_4253250502970996342_n