Judith Richardson – 56 years with the RNLI Dungeness

At the King’s Birthday Honours for 2023, Lifeboat Press Officer for RNLI’s Dungeness Lifeboat Station Judith Richardson was recognised with a BEM for services to Maritime Safety.

 

CommunityAd Exclusive - Judith Richardson - 56 years with the RNLI DungenessWorking tirelessly with the RNLI for close to six decades, Judith delved into her magnificent career and the many roles she has proudly taken on…

Judith started volunteering with the RNLI after she met her husband William. In 1967, at just 20 years of age, she was accepted as a lady launcher when Ben Tart was Coxswain on the ‘Mabel E. Holland’ and William was in his crew. She would also help with the fundraising activities held in the two local pubs and with the local RNLI Darts Leagues at that time.

In 1977, William was appointed Coxswain of the new Rother class lifeboat ‘The Alice Upjohn’ on a carriage with a tractor as well as having a new boathouse built further along the beach at Dungeness. This was a complete new innovation having a lifeboat available to launch 24 hours a day from Dungeness. Months of training continued and with her normal enthusiasm Judith could been seen in the kitchen of the crew room with her two young sons Mark and Stuart (who would later become coxswains themselves), making sure the trials team, the new crews, the shore crews and the inspectors were being looked after while the endless trials and exercises were going on. Another duty of Judith was to telephone some of the crew when the maroons were left off on the beach to indicate the lifeboat was needed (this was in the days before the pager).

In 1977, Judith joined the Fundraising Committee and set up a small souvenir shop in the boathouse. Every weekend the boathouse seemed to be busy with visitors and the fundraising team grew stronger and stronger.

Fundraising is important and Judith even took part in a sponsored 24 hour ladies darts marathon (even though she didn’t play darts) as it was an extra way to raise funds. If there was anything happening with the Dungeness RNLI then Judith would be there no matter what it was!

When the new Mersey class lifeboat ‘Pride and Spirit’ came on station again Judith was involved in the co-ordination making sure the donors Eric and Jean Cass were always included and were kept informed. In 1998, Judith’s husband William retired as Coxswain and so Judith too decided to retire from the Fundraising Committee and received an RNLI ‘Letter of Thanks’ from the Committee of Management for helping the Lifeboat Service.

In 1999, William took on the volunteer position as a Sea Safety Advisor and Judith was appointed as a Sea Safety PR volunteer and together they would spend their weekends and summer holidays taking out the RNLI South East Sea Safety Road Show. Their task was to visit marinas, fishing ports and harbours to talk about sea safety and arrange boat safety checks, lifejacket clinics and flare demonstrations in the South East of England, but most of the time they were sent all over the country; Ilffracombe, Skegness, Lyme Regis, Ceomer, Holyhead, Hastings, Coventry, Portishead and even Dover to name just a few, as popular ambassadors for the RNLI. The public enjoyed meeting some of the human faces of the RNLI and often Judith could be seen filling endless bags of Sea Safety/Water Safety literature to be given out to their audiences which also included children in schools when they worked together with the RNLI Educational Teams.

In 2006, Judith also joined the Operations and Management Committees and has worked tirelessly to contribute to these committees. She says the ‘Icing on the Cake’ in her role so far as the Dungeness LPO was in June 2014 at the christening of their new Shannon class lifeboat 13-02 ‘The Morrell’ by HRH Princess Anne. When the first new Shannon was allocated to Dungeness, the RNLI social media on Facebook and Twitter were relatively new, so she lead the station’s new followers on an incredible journey with photographs and comments, from the actual building of our Shannon at Lymington to the training of our crews at Poole and their journey home on the new boat to Dungeness. This was a really popular journey and everyone (including other RNLI personnel) joined in. The media coverage for this event was overpowering but with her normal confidence Judith kept going and the reviews in the papers, on the television and on Twitter and Facebook of the whole event, were outstanding!

News Releases to the media are a must for every launch and sometimes not an easy task dependent on the situation but Judith attended every one no matter the time of day or night (she would always be found at the lifeboat station when the boat is out on a rescue ready to answer media related calls), as she does with exercises and fundraising meetings, in the hope that she can be of any assistance on station. Once she has the facts from the duty Coxswain after a service launch she goes home, collates any photographs if appropriate, and writes the news releases for the papers, the Dungeness lifeboat station website and directly online for the main RNLI website. Judith was the first of the 40 East and South East coast LPO’s to complete the new COBT training course.

To conclude, Judith has played many roles at Dungeness Lifeboat Station and within the RNLI as a whole. She gets involved in most events held on station and continues on the Management Committee as well as PR events and never falters in her enthusiasm, dedication and pride to volunteer with the RNLI.

 

What inspires Judith’s volunteering spirit?

“I feel the lifeboat station is the ‘community’ here at Dungeness and to be involved with the selfless people that also volunteer is a reason to get up in the mornings! I love living here and feel lucky to have been involved all these years! Even prouder that my husband William was a coxswain and both my sons are too. If I’ve helped to save one life, then it’s all been worthwhile and that is priceless!!!”

 

Judith Richardson BEM

Dungeness RNLI Lifeboat Station Volunteer

 

RNLI awards:

  • 1977 RNLI framed vellum on retiring as a lady launcher
  • Numerous Letters of Thanks from different times volunteering throughout the country
  • Glass Paperweight on volunteering for 50 years with the RNLI
  • ‘Legend’ Mug from the RNLI Media Office at Poole
  • 2023 The King’s British Empire Medal (BEM)

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