Calling all Hayletts! Rallying appeal to people who share same surname as legendary lifeboatman

A service to mark 100 years since the death of Caister lifeboat coxswain John Haylett is taking plac

A service to mark 100 years since the death of Caister lifeboat coxswain John Haylett is taking place at Caister parish church on Sunday. Organisers are appealing for people with the same surname to attend. John Haylett is pictured far right Picture: Caister Lifeboat - Credit: Caister Lifeboat

A church service to honour a lifesaving legend is calling on all those who share his surname to join the celebration.

Caister’s long association with the sea and its workplace waves has seen countless acts of bravery as its crews braved peril to rescue ships caught in storms and churning waters.

Famously, they never turned back.

Among the most celebrated was John “Spratt” Haylett, part of a proud seafaring family whose name lives on in the many descendants spread across the borough.

A memorial service recalling Spratt’s association with the sea 100 years after his death will take place at Holy Trinity Church on Sunday, March 17, at 3pm.

Organiser Derek George, director at Caister Volunteer Lifeboat Service, said he wanted to see as many other Hayletts at the service as possible in tribute to the decorated beachman and former lifeboat coxswain.

He said a Haylett family tree would be on display at the service dating back to 1327.

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It comes as Caister Lifeboat prepares to celebrate 50 years of independence with a reception at Great Yarmouth’s town hall on Friday, March 15.

John Haylett was born in Beach Road in 1864, the tenth child of 14 born to Isaiah and Eleanor Haylett.

He married Elizabeth George on Christmas Day 1884 and the couple had seven children in 21 years.

Giving people nicknames was common at the time because there were so many family members with the same surname, but it is not known why he became known as Spratt.

He joined the lifeboat crew in 1883 and became coxswain in 1903 following the Beauchamp disaster.

On land he became landlord of The Ship pub in 1912, his descendants still pulling pints 65 years later.

One of his most daring rescues came in 1906 with the Russian Anna Precht which was driven onto the notorious Barber Sands and broken up.

In gale force winds all the crew were saved, earning Spratt and three others silver medals and awards from Russia.

In 1919 The Nimrod, used for Sir Ernest Shackleton’s South Pole expedition but now pressed into more mundane service, faced trouble in heavy seas and again foundered on the Barber Sands. Appalling weather made rescue in rowing boats impossible but two men were washed up alive.

However, Spratt was injured in the attempt and died aged 54, having served Caister lifeboat for 36 years, 16 as coxswain.

He is said to have been instrumental in saving 805 lives.