A north-east campaigner, who helped create a lifesaving group 14 years ago, has stepped down after being involved in countless rescues at sea.
Donald Watson was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Findhorn-based Moray Inshore Rescue Organisation (Miro) in 2005.
It was established following the death of yachtsman Glyn Whitehead at sea two years earlier. The tragedy was the catalyst for the village establishing its own lifeboat and their vessel was subsequently christened in memory of the sailor.
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Retired electrician Mr Watson, 70, who lives in Findhorn, became involved after a conversation with Simon Paterson – who is now the senior coxswain of the boat – led to the realisation he was already qualified for the crew.
He has been a dedicated and vital member of the team, responding to call-outs, night and day, until last year.
During his time on board, Mr Watson has responded to emergencies in which people have lost their lives and criminals have run into the sea in a vain bid to elude the police.
On one occasion, the team even came to the aid of a couple in the midst of an affair, who had become trapped by the tide during their liaison.
Mr Watson said: “I have been messing around in Findhorn Bay since I was able to walk. It has always been part of my life.
“I had long had it in the back of my mind that I wanted to get involved with the rescue services at some point.
“This was the perfect opportunity.”
Miro now responds to emergency situations along the Moray Firth coast between Burghead and Nairn, with the boat called out 15 times last year.
It has been a busy summer and the boat was at one point called out six times in little more than a week.
They responded to help a group who had become trapped by the tide at Nairn and a number of paddle boarders who found themselves in difficulty near Findhorn.
Mr Watson, an experienced sailor who was deputy coxswain when he stepped down, believes none of Miro’s successes would have been possible without the dedication of its volunteers.
But the same is true of the group’s founding member.
Paterson paid tribute to his crewmate, saying: “Donald joined the crew when Miro was established. He has trained and inspired numerous crew members over the years and ensured he has been available for call-outs 24 hours a day.
“He has towed, assisted, rescued and helped many people who have required our service and I can honestly say there are people alive today because of him.”