You can’t chalk up 50 years of service with the volunteer sea rescue without some interesting stories to tell, and Rockingham couple Richard and Valerie Williams have more than their fair share.
Richard and Valeries Williams - photo by Neil Mulligan
'I’ll never forget the bloke who for some reason decided to pull a stingray onto his boat,' Richard said.
'He was semi-conscious when we got to him – the barb had got into one of his veins. He was OK in the end though.
'Another time, I was working as a swimmer, and I had to swim to an upside down boat, which was in the shipping channel. As I got to the two men sitting on the boat, I tried to hand them life jackets, but they told me to bugger off. ‘You’re not having salvage from our boat,’ they said.'
Richard and Valerie first volunteered at Cockburn Sea Rescue after purchasing their own boat. 'We did a course, and then thought ‘well we had better learn some more’ and then some more after that. It’s been a lot of fun and we have met some great people.'
Richard has held a range of roles with the group – commander, deputy commander, first-aid officer, instructor and swimmer, while Valerie was secretary for a number of years, also serving as back-up skipper.
The couple now volunteer as radio operators and were recently rewarded with medals for their years of contribution.
After years of helping rescue stranded vessels, they are quick to encourage people to make contact with sea rescue groups before setting sail.
'First and foremost log on with whatever sea rescue group is closest to you. Radio through and let them know where you are, how many people are on board and what time you are coming back.
'Then if you are not back in time we can go and look for you.'
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