Billy is lifeboat’s golden boy

The Oban Times - - News -

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.

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