Obituary: Lifeboat volunteer and artist dies in the same home he was born in


Rod Boden with his pencil drawing of Diana Ross - Credit: ARCHANT

A retired builder who used his artistic talents to raise vital funds for an independent lifeboat charity has died aged 78. 

Rodney “Bodie” Boden, of Norwich Road, Horning, has been remembered for his dedication to supporting Caister Lifeboat, volunteering at its museum alongside his wife. 

As well as being a member, he was also an accomplished artist who created pencil drawings of the charity’s coxswains. 

Rod "Bodie" Boden with two of his pencil drawings

Rod "Bodie" Boden with two of his pencil drawings - Credit: ARCHANT

The crew also kept its flag at half-mast following the news of his death, having lost three members of its lifeboat community within a short time.  

Born in a village nestled in the heart of the Norfolk Broads on March 30, 1943, Mr Boden did not stray far from his beloved Horning - or even the house he was born in. 

He attended the village school, and then he is believed to have boarded at Gresham’s School at Holt, in north Norfolk. It is said that he did not like school “very much”.   

Rod Boden pictured in 2000

Rod Boden pictured in 2000 - Credit: ARCHANT

After leaving education, he began working on a farm and took an odd evening shift here and there in local pubs. He eventually went on to become a self-employed builder. 

Rod Boden's pencil drawing of singer Diana Ross, circa 2000

Rod Boden's pencil drawing of singer Diana Ross, circa 2000 - Credit: ARCHANT

His granddaughter, Emily Boden, 30, of Hevingham, near Aylsham, paid tribute to him on behalf of the family.  

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She said: "He was cheeky, easy-going, loved a good laugh and a joke, and he was always pulling a silly face. He also didn’t like too much fuss. 

“Although [to me] he was just my granddad, his talent for drawing always amazed me. He left me all his drawings. Some of his proudest accomplishments included the drawings he produced. He was an amazing artist and he raised a lot of money for Caister Lifeboat with drawings he did of the crew and coxswains. These can still be seen today at the lifeboat shed.” 

As well as his artwork, he also adored tending to his garden by growing different plants in his greenhouses. 

The lifeboat station reopened to a new look back in 2018, with all of the display panels at the Caister Lifeboat Experience redesigned and include video content throughout. The aim was to give a greater insight into the life-saving work of the independent Caister Lifeboat charity, as well as explain more about the running of the organisation. It includes a section on beach safety and some of Mr Boden's artwork will remain on display there.

Mr Boden had been suffering with his health for a few years and died suddenly on November 13, 2021, at his home in Horning - the same house he was born in. 

Caister Lifeboat paid tribute to him via a statement to its followers on Facebook. 

It read: “The directors, crew, and volunteers of Caister Lifeboat are extremely saddened to have learned of the death of our long-standing friend and former volunteer Rod Boden.  

“Bodie, as he was known to us, was a member of Caister Lifeboat for many years, and with his wife Thelma, volunteered in our lifeboat museum, welcoming visitors.  

“Always smiling and entertaining visitors, Rod was also an accomplished artist and created the most beautiful pencil drawings of our coxswains. He had only recently completed the full collection of works before he passed away. 

“When you’re next in the lifeboat shed, look at his work above the crew room and coxswain’s office to see the skill he had in capturing the character of our coxswains.” 

Rod "Bodie" Boden pictured wearing a Caister Lifeboat t-shirt

Rod "Bodie" Boden pictured wearing a Caister Lifeboat t-shirt - Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

He leaves behind his wife Thelma, children Darren and Melanie, stepsons Paul, John, and Mark, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.  

His funeral took place at Cromer Crematorium on December 3, where donations to Caister Lifeboat were raised. 

Caister Lifeboat also recently announced the passing of its cafe volunteer, Carol Christmas, and its former finance director, David Carr, who both died at the end of 2021.