Paul Brace, who for years has literally come to grips with the twin outboard engines powering the RNLI’s Cowes inshore lifeboat, received an appropriate gift to mark his departure as joint mechanic: a spanner affixed to a specially crafted wooden base.
Presenting both this and a framed photograph of the lifeboat, signed by station members, operations manager Mark Southwell praised his dedication to the mechanic’s role, which he had shared with Steve Price.
Like Hugh Robotham, who retired recently as deputy launching authority, Paul had been involved with the former independent lifeboat at Cowes from 2005 until the RNLI took over the operation in 2008. With the independent lifeboat he had been a crew member, the bosun, a member of the management team and a fund-raiser.
After the RNLI’s take-over he initially continued as a crew member, and then he and Steve became joint mechanics, undertaking specialist training at Poole headquarters.
“It has been a really good partnership over the last six years. Although I am now standing down I will be available as relief mechanic and as a member of the station’s visits team.”
Undergoing training as his replacement as a mechanic is crew member Mark Harker.
Paul, who is a long-serving HGV driver with haulage contractor Steve Porter, has however no plans to step-down from another of his spare-time maritime passions: working at Gurnard Sailing Club as chief RYA powerboat instructor.
Photograph: Nick Edwards