RNLI volunteer awarded medal for 30 years service

By Simon Culliford

25th Aug 2023 | Local News

Falmouth RNLI Coxswain Jonathon Blakeston presented David Proud with the medal. (Image: Falmouth Lifeboat)
Falmouth RNLI Coxswain Jonathon Blakeston presented David Proud with the medal. (Image: Falmouth Lifeboat)

Falmouth RNLI volunteer David Proud was recently presented with an RNLI long service medal in recognition of his 30 years of service at the station. The medal was presented to him by Falmouth RNLI Coxswain Jonathon Blakeston.

Falmouth Lifeboat's Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer, Simon Culliford has shared the story of David's career with the team:

David's involvement with search and rescue goes back further than that as he joined the Coastguard service in Falmouth, in January 1977, when it was located in the old lookout, a small square building at Pendennis Point. This was before the current Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre was built.

As a Coastguard team member, David was called out during the evening of 30 December 1978 to the unfolding Ben Asdale incident near Maenporth Beach in winds gusting storm force 10 to 11 with huge seas and a blizzard. The 422-ton Scottish trawler had fouled its rudder with a rope after unmooring from a Russian factory ship in Falmouth Bay resulting in the Ben Asdale hitting the rocks at Newporth Head.

Although 11 people survived (eight were rescued by helicopter and three managed to reach the shore after abandoning the vessel), sadly, three lives were lost. Falmouth lifeboat had been launched but David said: 'The lights of the lifeboat could be made out, standing off the wreck but unable to help due to the conditions and rocky surroundings. The lifeboat was being thrown violently around and was powerless to assist.'

While working at the Marine School in Falmouth, David met Alan Barnes, Falmouth lifeboat coxswain at that time. He encouraged David to consider joining the RNLI which he did in 1993 after stepping down from the Coastguard.

During his time on the crew, David was an inshore lifeboat crew member and helmsman until 2002 and an all-weather lifeboat crew member until 2013 holding the roles of emergency mechanic from 1995 to 2001, third mechanic from 2001 to 2004, deputy second coxswain from 2002 to 2013 and finally full-time mechanic from 2004 to 2013.

A few months after retiring from the crew in April 2013, David became a deputy launching authority at the station, a role he is still doing.

Falmouth RNLI Coxswain Jonathon Blakeston praised David for his achievement and said: 'Dave Proud was very influential on my career within the RNLI. If it wasn't for his advice and teaching, I would never have done what I have so I have a lot to thank him for. He helped me to get where I am now.'

David was involved in many lifeboat call outs but he said the most memorable one was the service on 2 November 2005 to the merchant vessel Galina. The 32-metre vessel, with eight crew on board, had lost all power in storm force conditions, 5.2 miles southeast of Dodman Point and 11 miles east of Falmouth.

The station's Severn class lifeboat Richard Cox Scott launched at 11.47 pm with newly appointed Falmouth Coxswain Mark Pollard in command with Second Coxswain Peter Wood, Mechanic David Proud, and crew members Dave Nicoll, Andrew Jenkin, Carl Beardmore, and Tom Bird on board. Mark described the conditions as the worst he had ever been out in, especially at night.

Fowey lifeboat launched as well and the lifeboats were tasked to stand by the stricken vessel and wait for the Emergency Towing Vessel Anglian Princess to arrive. However, it became clear that the Galina was drifting towards the shore at a rate that would leave little time for to establish a tow when the Anglian Princess arrived on scene. Because of this, a decision was made that Falmouth lifeboat (having slightly more power than the Fowey lifeboat) would try and establish a tow and hold it until the tug arrived.

After several attempts, a successful throw of the heaving line was achieved and a towline was attached to the casualty vessel. With a safe tow established, the lifeboat was able to tow the Galina southeast at 1 knot and await the arrival of the Anglian Princess.

Coxswain Mark Pollard was awarded the RNLI Bronze Medal for his fortitude, exemplary leadership, and outstanding seamanship in this rescue. The other Falmouth lifeboat crew members received Medal Service Certificates for their crucial part in this service. Fowey RNLI Coxswain Keith Stuart received a Chairmans's Framed Letter of Thanks in recognition of his physical and moral support during the rescue.

When asked about his 30 years of service with RNLI, David said: 'I couldn't have done this without the support from my wife and two sons.'


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