Bob Swalwell

Bob and Betty Swalwell
Bob and Betty Swalwell
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BOB Swalwell, a former minesweeper, publican and lifeboat volunteer, has died at the age of 88.

He passed away in his sleep with his wife Betty at his side at their home in Scarborough. The flag at the town’s lifeboat house was lowered as a mark of respect.

Mr Swalwell had been in poor health for the last couple of years and had been receiving respite and medical care at St Catherine’s Hospice.

He wanted his funeral to be on a Friday afternoon, because, he said, local fishermen would have finished work by then. It will be held at St Mary’s Church next week.

A prominent and active member of the seafront community, with many friends and acquaintances, his distinctive white quiff made him recognisable at a distance. Modest and proud, he will be remembered for his ready smile, sharp wit and excellent memory.

Born in Dumple Street, now Friargate, in 1925, the third oldest of nine children, Mr Swalwell spent all his life on or close to the sea. As a teenager, he couldn’t wait to enlist in the Armed Forces, following in the footsteps of his family. He joined the Royal Navy in 1943 and was posted aboard HMS Ganges.

“We were seconded to the minesweepers and served up and down the east coast,” he said in an interview in 2008. “When the Japs capitulated we were sent to Malaya. We swept the islands around Singapore clear of mines, and the Dutch East Indies, which is now Indonesia.”

Mr Swalwell met his wife Betty in the summer of 1947 at the old Olympia Ballroom on the seafront. Born in Cornwall, she had come to Scarborough to work at a boarding house. She served in the Auxilliary Territorial Service for four years.

By chance, the couple were demobbed almost simultaneously. They married at the register office, then in Dean Road, in 1948 and celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in February.

In 1958, Mr Swalwell began a long association with the RNLI. He spent 15 years as a crew member then assistant mechanic on the main lifeboat. For six of those years he doubled up on the inshore boat.

In 1970, the RNLI awarded a commendation to him for “meritorious conduct” during a rescue. He collected money for the lifeboat, the fishermen and firemen’s charity fund, the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen and other causes.

For many years he played a key role in organising the wreath-laying at sea on Remembrance Sunday for the Royal British Legion and collected money for the same cause from 1958 until 2004.

He and Betty were also publicans for many years, running the Castle Inn, nicknamed Shalla Watta, in Longwestgate, then the Britannia and Golden Last in Eastborough from 1958 to 1973.

The couple had three children – Robert, Stephen and Christine. They each had two children, who in turn provided the Swalwells with six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.