Billy is lifeboat’s golden boy
OBAN Lifeboat’s operations manager Billy Forteith has been awarded the RNLI’s gold badge in recognition of his long service and dedication, following 41 years with the charity.
Billy first joined the RNLI as a volunteer at Oban Lifeboat station in 1975, just a few years after the station itself was founded in 1972.
At the time the station would have been operating its first lifeboat, the 18ft McLachlan inshore lifeboat providing only seasonal cover during the summer months.
The first all-weather lifeboat arrived in 1978, quickly followed by a newer model, before our current Trent class Mora Edith MacDonald was allocated in 1997.
Starting off as a crew member, Billy progressed through the ranks to become an emergency mechanic, followed by deputy coxswain and finally second coxswain. He then took on the station’s lifeboat operations manager role.
During his time he also received the thanks of the RNLI on Vellum. The prestigious gold badge award, presented at the RNLI’s award ceremony in Perth, recognises Billy’s significant contribution and dedication to the charity over the years.
He remains an integral part of the lifeboat family. Oban Lifeboat chairman Mike Robertson said: ‘I think that word “fun” is important, both about the huge contribution Billy has made to the station over the years, and to other crew members and volunteers taking part in the lifeboat family at Oban.
‘Billy has always been very much involved in the likes of station barbecues, which used to include Malt and Salt events at the distillery, raft races, and latterly open day events. ‘As the current station lifeboat operations manager, Billy gives a huge amount of voluntary time and work on behalf of the station. His award of the RNLI gold badge is richly deserved.’
In his 41 years with the RNLI in Oban, Billy Forteith has seen the vessel go from an 18ft inshore boat to today’s hi-tech all-weather lifeboat.