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After 65 years, rescued boy says 'thank you!'

by Shoreham News/Des Ryan on 25 Oct 2013
Shoreham RNLI - a big thank you, 65 years later .. .
The memory of his rescue when a teenager stayed with him all his life. So sixty five years after the traumatic event, a sailor who was rescued as a 14-year-old boy has returned to a British Royal National Lifesaving Institution (RNLI) team to give them a check for £20,000.

Richard Tookey was a 14-year-old boy when the crew of the Shoreham lifeboat rescued him and his family from a stricken yacht in 1948.

This week he has revisited the station, on Kingston Beach, and donated £20,000.

The gift will go towards the costs of fuelling the station’s two lifeboats over the next five years.

Keith Phelps, Shoreham Lifeboat operations manager, said: 'It was great to meet Richard Tookey, hearing his story was like reliving a great piece of the station’s history.

'We took him out for a ride on the current lifeboat, which he enjoyed much more than his first trip all those years ago.'

Mr Tookey, who now lives in South Africa, was on board the yacht Gull in heavy seas and swell on August 8, 1948.

Her sails became torn and she was three miles off Shoreham Harbour out of control.

The coastguard launched the Shoreham lifeboat, Rosa Woodd and Phylis Lunn, to go to the aid of the 14-ton yacht, which had three men, two women and a boy on board.

The lifeboat eventually caught up with her after 14 miles as she reached Newhaven.

The yacht made an attempt to enter the harbour, but the seas washed over her, leaving her wrecked and being driven ashore.

Lifeboat coxswain James Upperton skilfully took her straight into the surf and went alongside while the crew rescued five of the six on board the yacht.

The lifeboat went in a second time to rescue the last man left and they were taken ashore at Newhaven.

Mr Upperton won an RNLI award for his skilful and gallant rescue.

During the recent visit, Mr Tookey and daughter Catherine met the crew and he explained he was keen to help the RNLI with its vision to end preventable loss of life at sea.

He said in a letter after the visit: 'The older I get, the greater my awareness of just how much I, and my family, owe to the courage and skill of that RNLI lifeboat crew when they saved the lives of my father, me and four others 65 years ago. I am just so glad that I am able to make a donation like that. I am also pleased that it will go directly to Shoreham.'
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