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Veteran life-saver

197. Richard Spindler

A 67 year old man from Weston-super-Mare has devoted his life to ensuring that people stay safe in the seas around the North Somerset coastline.

Richard Spindler, a retired Royal National Lifeboat Institution volunteer from Weston-super-Mare, has been volunteering with the organisation for 49 years. During that time Richard has been an integral member of the Weston-super-Mare RNLI team which has helped to save 218 lives, raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for the RNLI and educated the community about the perils of the sea.

Richard began his lifetime association with the RNLI when he visited the lifeboat station on Birnbeck Island at the age of just 12 and helped perform general duties such as cleaning the boats. As soon as he turned 17 in 1965 Richard was allowed to join the RNLI crew as a volunteer and quickly developed his sea legs, specialising in swimming off the lifeboat to rescue those whom the lifeboat could not reach. In 1978 he won an RNLI award for rescuing five people who had become trapped in a cave on Brean Down, a local two mile long peninsula during a gale. In severe weather and darkness Richard swam into the cave to bravely guide the people to safety.

In 1990 he received a further award for his fundraising activities which he continues today. By the time Richard had retired from the rough seas and gale-force winds six years later, the RNLI crews at Weston-super-Mare had saved 218 lives and rescued many more. Since reluctantly retiring from the crew due to age restrictions, Richard has continued to work with the RNLI as a Deputy Launching Authority, and has recently completed three years of service as an RNLI Lifeboat Sea Safety Officer covering the area from Weston-super-Mare to Gloucester and has also carried out dozens of RNLI educational visits to schools, youth groups and adult organisations. As a result, this year Richard will mark an incredible 50 years of service.

Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:

“Richard is a particularly brave and selfless volunteer who has risked his own safety to save the lives of others throughout a lifetime of volunteering with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. I want to congratulate Richard on the incredible 50 years of service he will mark this year and I am delighted to name him a Point of Light.”

Richard said:

“Thank you very much for this award. It proves that the organisation is being noticed for all it’s hard work running the lifeboats and I accept it alongside all of the crew”.

John Penrose MP said:

“I’m delighted Richard Spindler is being recognised for the outstanding work he’s done for nearly half a century. His extraordinary achievements for RNLI as a volunteer, saving lives and raising much needed funds are an amazing record. Everyone in Weston and the villages is hugely proud of what he’s accomplished.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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