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Long-standing RNLI member closes chapter after five decades of volunteering

George Craig retires after five decades of volunteering with the RNLI
George Craig retires after five decades of volunteering with the RNLI

After nearly 50 years of keeping the Mearns coastline safe, a dedicated RNLI crew member is stepping down.

George Craig joined the lifeboat crew in 1973 after moving to Stonehaven and deciding it would be an ideal way to get to know people.

Over the years the 71-year-old has been involved in countless rescues up and down the Aberdeenshire coast, and has enjoyed seeing the technology develop to better equip the team with life-saving skills.

Mr Craig said: “We moved down to Stonehaven when the kids were little, but we were definitely seen as ‘inaboot-comers’.

“It was pretty hard to get to know people, so I thought I’d join the lifeboat crew.”

At the time Mr Craig was working for NCR, a global computer system provider, which meant he often worked away in London and the States, as well Germany, Spain and France.

This didn’t stop him learning what he needed to know to work on the lifeboat crew, and start saving lives at sea and he has held a variety of roles.

“I’ve been on the shore crew, I’ve been the tractor driver and the head launcher, as well as on the boat crew,” he said.

“Teamwork is so important and so is learning the ropes.

“The level of training the RNLI offers is second to none. It really is so professional.”

Over the years Mr Craig – who later became a janitor at Mearns Academy – has taken part in many rescues, some of which have been successful and others which have been more tragic. He admitted those involving someone local were particularly hard to come to terms with.

But among the tragedies have also been light-hearted moments, and friendly rivalry with the other emergency services – like one rescue, where both the RNLI and coastguards were keen to be the ones to take two German women back to dry land safely.

The pair, who were in swimsuits, were picked up safely but caused quite a stir.

It is that camaraderie that Mr Craig will miss when he steps down.

“On a lifeboat, you have to trust your team, and the crew is like a family,” he said.

“Stonehaven is a small town, everyone knows everyone and it’s great to be part of the community and do your bit. ”

Away from the lifeboat, the proud grandfather-of-two also dedicated his time to the Stonehaven Air Cadets as a flight lieutenant and was made an MBE in 1992 for his service.

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