Tributes paid to Selsey RNLI stalwart who dedicated over 60 years of service to lifeboat station

Tributes have been paid to a former crew member and volunteer who dedicated more than 60 years of his life to Selsey Lifeboat Station.

Tuesday, 10th November 2020, 5:20 pm
Updated Tuesday, 10th November 2020, 5:21 pm

George Woodland, who first joined the Selsey RNLI in 1952, aged 17, passed away last month aged 86.

He served as a crew member at Selsey for 38 years before he retired in 1990 as second coxswain, during which time he served on the Canadian Pacific, the Charles Henry and the City of London lifeboats – and also crewed the first inshore lifeboat stationed at Selsey in 1968.

Lifeboat operations manager Tony Delahunty said: “George was highly respected by all past and present crew and volunteers at Selsey Lifeboat Station.

The Canadian Pacific and its crew, with George Woodland wearing Sou'wester, fourth from left

“I personally had the privilege of serving with George for over 20 years, he was always enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and passionate about the RNLI.

“Even when he retired from the crew, he would be at the station helping where he could and relaying stories of rescues to visitors.

“George was a real credit to Selsey and the RNLI.”

George received three medal service certificates and two vellum service certificates over the years – and was even awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 1985.

Peter Wells presents George with a painting of the Maaslust in 2006

On July 28, 1956, George was part of the Selsey Lifeboat crew who rescued 18 people from three yachts on stormy seas when gusts of 88 to 90mph were recorded.

Two of those saved from one of the yachts, the Maaslust, were a 22-month-old boy and an 11-year-old girl.

George was reunited with both many years later – Peter Wells in 2006, to mark the 50th anniversary of the rescue, and Nicki Constant in 2014, to mark her 70th birthday.

During his visit Peter presented George with a painting of the Maaslust as a personal thanks for the rescue.

George reunited with Nicki Constant in 2014

After retiring George put his interest in local history to great use and took on the role of the station’s museum curator.

He spent many hours updating and modernising the museum, and also guided groups of visitors and school parties around the museum.

In 2002 George was presented with a vellum award for 50 years of volunteering for the RNLI.

In retirement George was always around to give advice to anyone who wanted it – including the team tasked with demolishing the old lifeboat station.

The crew on the Charles Henry - George is front right in his flat cap

George worked on the build of that station in 1959-60 – back in those days during the winter the fishermen would get work with local builders or firms involved in sea defence or building projects.

George’s family have set up a JustGiving page to raise money for Selsey RNLI in his memory.

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The Selsey lifeboat in Portsmouth landing the 18 survivors in 1956 - George, with cap on, has his back to the camera

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