James honoured for dedicated service

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PETERHEAD Lifeboat’s second coxswain has been honoured for 20 years’ dedicated service to the RNLI.

James Geary (40), of Coral Gardens, Peterhead, joined the RNLI in July 1981, and received his 20 year service medal at the end of last year.

The dad of two had initially left school and joined the Merchant Navy as a cadet, but opted to go into a career in engineering and worked offshore.

But he decided to put his knowledge to good use and signed up with the Peterhead crew as a volunteer lifeboatman.

He soon graduated up the ranks to become deputy second coxswain in 2001 and second coxswain two years later.

James, who is married to lifeboat fundraising group secretary Paula, has enjoyed some memorable rescues during his time with the RNLI, including the Sea Reefer which ran aground off the North Head of Peterhead back in 1982 - just one year after joining.

“I think it was a Saturday night and I was planning on going out when the shout came through,” recalls James.

“That’s the thing with the lifeboat, you never know what to expect. It can be anything from a dog stuck on a cliff to a stricken vessel to a helicopter ditching into the North Sea.

“I remember another incident when a crewman aboard a small boat, the Luky Luke, came down with severe sea sickness.

“We launched and went to his aid but there was no clear room to jump on deck and when I eventually got onto the deck the guy was sitting behind the wheelhouse door and I ended up ripping the door off the hinges to get to him.

“I gave him First Aid and we took him back to Peterhead and thankfully he made a full recovery,” he said.

In an event-packed 20 years, James says he has had many experiences - bad and good - but would encourage anyone who is keen to join the RNLI to sign up.

“I would say if you want to learn new skills and give something back to the community, be part of a team and don’t mind getting out of bed in the middle of the night at a moment’s notice, then come along, we’d love to hear from you!” he said.

“The training you get is first class and there is great camaraderie among the crew and they are a great bunch of lads.

“I have encouraged members of my family to join - my father-in-law is the Lifeboat Operations Manager, my wife is the fundraising secretary and my brother is a crew member.

“If anyone is interested in joining then come along to the shed at West Pier on a Monday at 6.30pm or call the shed on (01779) 473331,” he added.