A former Ilfracombe teacher and RNLI crewman has written a new book about the lifeboats that have served the town for almost two centuries.
For Those in Peril by Bob Thompson, tells the story of Ilfracombe’s lifeboats from the original large rowing and sailing boats crewed by up to 15 men, right up to the high speed, high tech lifeboats of today.
Bob himself was a volunteer on the boat crew for 30 years and served another 12 years as deputy launch authority. He also taught at Ilfracombe College, but had to drop everything if his pager went off.
Thanks to sponsorship and generous donations from many local people, every penny of the book will go to Ilfracombe RNLI.
The book has been published by Gudrun Limbrick of Memories in Print and sponsored by Samuels Solicitors, together with dozens of individual donations.
The coast around Ilfracombe is treacherous and its weather can be harsh.
For the past 200 years, dedicated and brave lifeboat crews have set out time and time again into the darkness, at the mercy of the sea, to go to a ship or a person in trouble.
Illustrated with more than 50 photographs, the book recounts heroic rescues and terrible tragedies in which crews battled with harsh weather and huge seas, including the remarkable rescue of the crew of the Monte Gurugu in 1949.
Bob said “I am proud, along with so many others, to have been a part of Ilfracombe’s long lifeboat history. It has been an ambition of mine to have this updated history so that we can all share this remarkable history.
“I am delighted that this has been achieved and that the profits will be going towards the work of the lifeboats.”
Of his own career he is quite modest, but said it was very satisfying to be a part of the organisation and the harbour community.
One rescue stood out, saving seven boys and three adults from the cliffs at Little Hangman in Combe Martin in March 1983, which surely saved their lives, as some were starting to suffer from hypothermia.
He also recalls that his students during his teaching days so learned that if his pager went off and they stayed quiet, they wouldn’t have to do anything for the rest of the lesson!
For Those in Peril is available from Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station, the Ilfracombe RNLI shop in Broad Street or online from www.memoriesinprint.co.uk/lifeboats .