Lifeboat legend retires
1:44pm Wednesday 9th April 2014 in News
A BARRY Dock lifeboat stalwart has retired following 18 years at sea and another 18 on land as the voice of the town charitable institution.
Former volunteer crew member has banished his computer from its duties as press officer for the Barry Dock station following his memorable time with the service.
Gerry’s first shout, two hours into acquiring his pager for the first time, saw him attending a sinking boat, saving five men and a dog.
The boat went bow down, stood on end high in the water and then sank – only minutes after transferring the casualties.
Another occasion saw Gerry was preparing to go to Bristol Airport to go on holiday when the pager went off.
He told his wife Jill he was “just going to see if everything was ok”, but found himself with other crew on a ledge on Nell’s Point with two severely injured casualties, an incoming tide and a helicopter above.
Three hours later he was on a plane due for Lanzarote thinking 'what was all that about a few hours ago!'
Gerry was part of the volunteer crew that saved 75 and assisted hundreds.
In his role as volunteer press officer, he spread the word about the 2001 centenary celebrations at Barry Docks, probably the biggest celebration that Barry had.
And his second highlight was reporting on the 16-year-old boy feared drowned after going missing off Friars Point.
The vigilant volunteer lifeboat crew successfully resuscitated the youngster and Gerry and Dean Caldwell, alongside the Barry & District News, visited the boy three days later in hospital, pleased to discover he had no apparent complications.
Gerry hands over to his deputy Abigail Phillips, who has been to Poole to the RNLI HQ on the specialist press officer’s course at the lifeboat college.
Abi’s husband Dave is a lifeboat deputy coxswain and her mother Liz is the education and visits officer.
Gerry started his association with volunteering as a St John Cadet at the age of 10-years-old, was a founder member of the St John Lifeguards, joined the volunteer crew of the Barry Dock lifeboat and then joined the South Wales Ambulance Community First Responders.
Gerry paid special tribute to his wife Jill and four children for the support given to him during his voluntary lifeboat years as there were many times when family celebrations or shopping was altered when the pager sounded.
Gerry also ran the Cardiff Half Marathon, in aid of the RNLI - 40 years after his last long run – and encouraged others to follow in his footsteps.
Gerry is now heading into his 55th year of volunteering, continuing as a Community First Responder and still giving some time to the RNLI.
Gerry said: “The RNLI has been a great part of my life. It's truly a great Institution.”