Dave Whiteley BEM Coxswain of the Hoylake Lifeboat (pictured above with Andy Dodd),, is to retire on 14th February from his post, after 40 years’ service to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
During his many years’ volunteering for the charity, including the last 15 years as Coxswain, he has played a vital role in saving over 150 lives at sea. He was recently awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours in recognition of his service and commitment to lifesaving in his local community.
Dave, 56, joined Hoylake RNLI as volunteer crew on his 17th birthday in January 1976, following in his father’s footsteps. Since then he served the RNLI in several roles including Assistant Mechanic, Second Mechanic and Second Coxswain, until he was selected as Hoylake Lifeboat’s Coxswain in January 2001.
Throughout his service Dave launched with the lifeboat many times, often in difficult conditions. However, the longest and most challenging ‘shout’ he served on was in 1992, as a navigator under former Coxswain John McDermott aboard the station’s previous lifeboat Lady of Hilbre. The lifeboat was tasked to assist the Warszawska Nike, a Polish Tall Ship with 9 persons aboard that was caught in a gale while heading to Liverpool. The lifeboat was out for almost 12 hours, often in short, steep seas with the wind gusting to hurricane force at times. Coxswain John McDermott and all of his crew, including Dave, were congratulated by the RNLI for their fine seamanship and professionalism following the vessel’s safe arrival in Liverpool.
On Dave’s retirement, John Curry, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Hoylake Lifeboat Station, said ‘Dave has been a great inspiration to all of our crew members. As a mark of the respect in which he is held, he was elected by the crew to lead them in 2001. He has shown great skill in many dangerous casualty situations when his crew relied on his judgement. Dave has been a very popular leader with a dry sense of humour who will be missed as Coxswain. We are fortunate that he will be staying on as part of the station operations team.’
Chairman of the Hoylake and West Kirby Lifeboat Stations, James Lodder, said ‘Dave has worked hard as a fundraiser for the Hoylake station. He was a key member of the team that secured both the new lifeboat station which opened in 2008 and the revolutionary Shannon class lifeboat, Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood, which came into service just before Christmas 2014.’
Dave said that he has enjoyed the Coxswain’s role enormously, in particular the crew camaraderie both ashore and afloat; ‘The dedication and selfless commitment by Hoylake RNLI’s crew, their families and supporters throughout my time with them has been outstanding.’
Succeeding Dave as Coxswain is 37 year-old Andy Dodd, the fourth generation of his family to serve the RNLI. The Dodd family has served the Hoylake Lifeboat Station, one of the oldest lifeboat stations in the UK, for almost a century and a half. Andy’s father Dave Dodd MBE, a former Coxswain himself, still volunteers with Hoylake RNLI.
As a small boy Andy grew up working on his father’s fishing boat on the River Dee. He joined the RNLI on his 17th birthday and has been Second Coxswain for the last 12 years. He has also served as the station’s full-time Mechanic for the last 7 years. Andy said ‘I am immensely honoured to be following in the line of great men who have served the local community at the RNLI station. I am grateful to my father and to Dave for all their encouragement and guidance and to the crew for their support.’
When asked what advice he would offer to his successor, Dave Whiteley said ‘Enjoy the moment and the years ahead, the station is in very capable hands.’