King's Birthday Honours: Medal for Scarborough Lifeboat volunteer who helped rescue 175 people over 40 years

Lifeboat volunteer John Porter, in his 40 years' service, helped rescue 175 people with his team. As head launcher, his responsibility was to see the craft safely into the sea.

Now the Scarborough RNLI visitor officer, who works as a booking clerk at Whitby station with the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, is awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM).

"It was a privilege to be able to serve the community in that way," he said of his many years with the RNLI. "Sometimes, we'd get a premonition that we'd have a disturbed night's sleep and then at 2am the pager goes and it's out the door to find driving rain or hail or sleet.

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"When it comes back, successful, everybody is happy. When it doesn't, well we always worry could we have done better? I know we always tried our absolute best."

John PorterJohn Porter
John Porter

Mr Porter hailed the skills and continued dedication of his fellow crew members, always prepared to drop everything at a moment's notice to race to the rescue of others.

He recalled his pager going off, midway through a supermarket shop, and dashing off only to find on his return that staff had packed it all up ready for him. There were abandoned restaurant meals, and a Christmas dinner as a trawler hit trouble 30 miles out to sea.

Then, on the day he first got the keys to the home he shared with his late wife Mary, the alarms going off just as he turned the key in the lock. It was a fishing vessel, struggling.

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Within seven-and-a-half minutes, the craft was launched, and Mary watched from their new conservatory windows as five lives were saved in the bay.

"I didn't half get into trouble when I got back," smiled Mr Porter, now 76.

But together the couple had volunteered for years, raising money and attending events and county fairs, even roping in the grandchildren to help sell raffle tickets for the RNLI.

Mr Porter started with the Filey crew in 1980, before joining Scarborough in 2013. Filey had been short handed and asked him to 'grab a rope', he said. It never really ended.

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Now, there is volunteer work with primary schools, Rainbows and Cubs. Showing them the ropes, and the history, and sharing essential lifesaving skills.

"Getting this award is a great honour," he said. "It is a surprise. Something I'm very proud to receive. It's a reflection of the work of the whole team.

"I look back and I do think 'wow'," he added. "We all did a job, which has brought families and husbands and mothers and children back. To be a part of that is pretty special."

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