Long-serving RLNI volunteer to be remembered

A new lifeboat will feature the name of a popular West Country man as part of RLNI’s ‘Launch a Memory’ campaign. Gerald Simmons, who volunteered for almost 50 years at St Agnes RNLI Lifeboat Station, is to have his name included on a new Shannon class lifeboat, which will be based at Clifden on Ireland’s west coast.

Mr Simmons was a very highly-respected member of the lifeboat station team and in the whole community of St Agnes. He served as a crew member, the station honorary secretary (or station operational manager), and in his later years, as chairperson.

He retired from volunteering in 2017 and sadly passed away last year. His family have decided to remember him by supporting the RNLI’s Launch a Memory campaign – which gives people the opportunity to have a lasting, unique and physical way to remember loved ones who loved the sea, while helping to fund the charity’s lifesaving work. Mr Simmons’s name will appear within the letters and numbers (decal) on the side of a brand-new Shannon class lifeboat, alongside thousands of other people.

Gavin Forehead, volunteer helm on St Agnes lifeboat, said: “Gerald was greatly respected in the community of St Agnes. As chairman of St Agnes RNLI he brought enormous energy and enthusiasm to the role. He always had a massive smile and would create a fantastic atmosphere wherever and whenever he was involved.

Gerald’s generosity of spirit went way beyond his support of the lifeboat. He was truly a legend.” His daughter Lisa said: “His unique fundraising ideas were always inspiring, fun, successful, and occasionally a little shambolic! From Killiow golf days, Lifeboat Day (with and without camels), pimms and pasties, and curry nights, he made sure the events were wonderful and inclusive.

In 2000, he was awarded the Silver Badge in recognition of his valuable support of the lifeboat service. “Dad’s warmth of character, humility and caring for the community of St Agnes, beyond his contribution to the RNLI, will never be forgotten. “God bless, darling dad, your memory lives on with the RNLI’s launch a memory initiative at Clifden station and you’ll never be forgotten.”

This is the second ‘Launch a Memory’ lifeboat, with the first being based in Invergordon, Scotland. The first raised £385,924.66 for the RNLI and 9,559 names were included in the boat’s decal. This second lifeboat has already passed the halfway point of 5,000 names submitted, so those wishing to add their loved one’s name are advised to be quick.