Appledore RNLI pays tribute to ‘father figure’
PUBLISHED: 15:14 09 April 2014 | UPDATED: 15:14 09 April 2014
Appledore RNLI’s president of 10 years passed away suddenly last month as tributes from crew members admire his support and enthusiasm.
APPLEDORE RNLI has paid tribute to a ‘father figure’ following the death of its president of 10 years, and financial benefactor, Bill Gibson.
Bill, who died suddenly aged 75 on March 30 at his home near Bristol, with his family around him, has been supporting the RNLI financially since 1973.
Members of Appledore RNLI, where Bill had served as president since 2004, said the station had become his second family.
In 1988, the GC Family Trust, of which Bill was a member, was instrumental in providing Appledore RNLI with its 47ft Tyne class all-weather lifeboat George Gibson, which served until 2010.
The Gibson family also provided the current Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Glanely, which arrived at the station in 2012.
Members of the crew, both past and present, have sent their condolences to his wife Jill, saying Bill’s enthusiasm for the station was matched ‘only by his generosity of spirit’.
Martin Cox, Appledore coxswain, said: “I have known Bill since 1988 when the George Gibson arrived at station.
“At that time my father was coxswain and he and Bill became good friends, with Bill showing great interest in all the crew and the goings-on at the station.
“Over the years Bill and Jill’s attention to the crew and station continued and when I took over as coxswain in 2005 I knew I could count on Bill’s support and on-going friendship.
“His regular visits and social events were welcomed by the crew and their families alike. He will be very sadly missed by all of us, and always remembered.”
Bill liked nothing more than getting behind the wheel of the lifeboat, and even at the age of 75 he would be beaming like a schoolboy when he got on one of the boats.
He was last in Appledore with the RNLI only a week or so before his death, where he played a full part in the annual crew dinner and presentation evening.
John Pavitt, Appledore RNLI chairman, said Bill’s death had ‘left an enormous hole’.
“He was always there with his finger on the pulse of what mattered. He had so many friends and contacts and always put in the right word for the RNLI in the right places,” he said.
Wendy Dale, Appledore RNLI operations manager, said Bill’s delight in being president of the station was evident in the many times he visited it.
“The more involved he could become, the better he liked it,” she said.
“He was committed to the work of the RNLI and his family visits in the summer were the highlight of our calendar. There is no-one who can take his place.”
Owen Atkinson, mechanic and second coxswain, said Bill was a ‘true advocate and leader, a passionate supporter of the station’.
He said: “He approached all tasks, both within the guild and management groups with passion and commitment. His shoes will be extremely difficult to fill.”
Speaking on behalf of the crew, past and present, Appledore’s previous coxswain Mike Bowden summed up the station’s feelings: “He always had time for anyone, and if you could not get on with Bill, you could not get on with anyone. He was second to none.”
Details of the funeral arrangements can be obtained from Appledore Lifeboat Station on 01237 473969.