A STALWART of Minehead RNLI has retired after a lifetime of service to the town’s branch of the charity.

David James, 74, has been going down to the station since he was a young boy when he lived by the quay and has been heavily involved ever since.

He officially joined as a volunteer in 1955 at the age of 17, and should have retired when he turned 70, but was happy to have ‘slipped through the net’ until now, finally hanging up his boots on December 31.

Mr James said: “Living on the coast, I have always been interested in the sea and boats. I have been going down there since I was in short trousers – my uncle used to work the winch.

"I was just happy to be down there and used to help launch the boats until 1970 when the cox at the time asked me if I was interested in becoming a crew member. I said I definitely was, and I did that until 1988.

“I really enjoyed being out on the boats and got an extension to stay as a crew member until I was 50 instead of 45. I was so disappointed when I had to retire from that but I stayed involved and became a deputy launching authority.

“I have very fond memories of my time at the station and I would do it all again. It’s like a family – we are all involved in so many things together, on the social side as well, so I have some very good friends for life.”

Former crew member Chris Rundle said: “David was always one of those blokes you could totally rely on.

"He had fantastic local knowledge, great boat handling ability and he was a great team player. With a record like his, he definitely deserves some recognition.”

Visit www.rnli.org to find out more about the RNLI, which relies on donations to cover its running costs – £90,000 a year for the Minehead station.