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Lifeboat's rescues told in new book

PUBLISHED: 14:29 23 October 2008 | UPDATED: 12:04 03 July 2010

RESCUES: Lifeboatman Paul Garrod with his copy of the rescues book

RESCUES: Lifeboatman Paul Garrod with his copy of the rescues book

Dominic Bareham

THE legend that Caister Lifeboatmen “never turn back” is well known locals and now there is a chance to get even closer to some of their daring rescues, courtesy of a new book.

THE legend that Caister Lifeboatmen “never turn back” is well known locals and now there is a chance to get even closer to some of their daring rescues, courtesy of a new book.

“The Rescues of the Caister Lifeboats,” will be launched today, providing vivid descriptions of some of the dramatic events on the high seas, accompanied by graphic paintings by Sheringham artist Mick Bensley.

From 1858 to 2007, all major rescues are covered in the book, which will be raising money for the upkeep of the lifeboat service - the only all-weather lifeboat station in the country independent of the RNLI.

Most of the information in the book has been provided by Mr Bensley, who now lives near Brighton, but there is also a moving contribution from Rear Admiral Ian Moncrieff, commanding officer of HMS Nottingham, who describes a rescue involving the lifeboat.

He recalled how his destroyer was heading back to its base port at Portsmouth in a Force 9 gale following exercises in the North Sea in December 1993 when the crew received a distress call from Dutch trawler FV Vrouwe Grietve.

One of the trawler's crew members had gone overboard and the Nottingham had been tasked to oversee the search during the early hours of the morning. A number of other “substantially built vessels” attended the scene, but could not manoeuvre easily in the conditions.

Caister lifeboat was also called to the incident and continued into the increasingly hazardous conditions to conduct the search which sadly proved to be fruitless. However, the Nottingham's crew were impressed by the Caister men's determination.

Rear Admiral Moncrieff said: “All who witnessed, including some Army personnel who were embarked with me at the time, the lifeboat's work and fortitude, were full of admiration for the courage that the crew displayed. As one of my sailors on the bridge remarked: 'These chaps have got real balls - especially when we are paid to be out in these conditions and they are not!'”

Mr Bensley, who has also compiled books on Sheringham, Cromer and Wells lifeboats, said he created his paintings using library archives and newspaper cuttings which gave descriptions of what conditions were like at the time of the rescues.

His interest stemmed from his Sheringham days when he had friends involved with the town's lifeboat and he became fascinated by life on the high seas.

“I love doing paintings of adverse weather conditions. It is a good subject for me and I am a marine painter,” Mr Bensley said.

He will be signing copies of the book at Caister Lifeboat Station in Tan Lane between 11am and 5pm today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday). Original paintings and drawings from the book will also be on display.

The book is priced at £30 or can be posted out for £35. It's available at Palmers department store, The Mercury's office at 169 King Street, Great Yarmouth and Jarrolds of Norwich.

For more information, call Caister Lifeboat chairman Paul Garrod of 07775 604668.

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