Whitby lifeboat station pays tribute to former Chaplain, Reverend Canon David Smith, who has died aged 76

A lifeboat station in North Yorkshire is flying its flag at half mast in memory of its former chaplain.

Canon David Smith died on April 29 after a long illness and the age of 76.

He became the Chaplain at Whitby RNLI lifeboat chaplain in 2007 after he took over at St Mary's Church as the Rector of Whitby.

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However, his first encounter with the crew was when he stepped into help at the station during a call out just a short time into his new post.

Reverend Canon David Smith (left) being presented with his certificate of service in 2016 from former Coxswain Mike Russel. Picture: RNLI/Ceri Oakes

A tragedy was unfolding in Whitby after a boat capsized in stormy conditions and all three on board drowned and Mr Smith happened to be passing the station that day and went inside to offer his assistance.

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No one had met him before as he had just taken on the role of Rector of Whitby, but Whitby’s Coxswain Howard Fields said he was part of the furniture after that.

Mr Fields said: "He came back the next day, and then after that we saw him regularly, he was our chaplain and then later press officer. David had a knack of always being in the right place at the right time and always knowing what to say. He was very well respected amongst the crew and has been a friend to them over the years, providing emotional support after particularly difficult call outs.

"He was a great listener, calming but he also had a sense of fun too, one look from him and you knew what he was thinking."

Canon Smith supported the crew through good times and bad, christening many of the crew's children aboard the lifeboat, conducting funerals and weddings, and always supporting them.

His funeral service will take place on Friday May 13 in St Mary Magdalene Church, Yarm at 1pm prior to cremation in the chapel of St Hilda, Teesside Crematorium at 2.15pm.

Family flowers only. Donations in lieu if so desired to Kidney Research UK and RNLI Whitby Lifeboat.

Canon Smith was ordained a priest in York Minster on July 1 1973 by the then Archbishop of York, Dr Donald Coggan and first served the parish of St. Peter and St. Paul, Stokesley. In 1985 Canon Smith was appointed Rector of St. Mary Magdalene in Yarm, and moved to Whitby in 2000. In 2005 he was appointed an Honorary Canon of York Minster.