Coxswain Kevin Kirkpatrick retires

Today , 19 May 2022, RNLI Longhope wishes their Coxswain, Kevin Kirkpatrick, a very happy retirement.

Kevin became Coxswain in 2002, fulfilling a long held ambition and continuing a firm lifeboat tradition on both sides of the family. His seafaring expertise, leadership, patience, kindness and diplomacy have ensured that RNLI Longhope continues to thrive and that new generations of volunteer crew are now saving lives at sea.

Former Lifeboat Press Officer, Mary Harris, said “Kevin is an ordinary Orkney man, but with his fellow lifeboat crew members he has achieved the extraordinary. As Coxswain for 20 years he has managed to keep the Longhope lifeboat active, in spite of the limited pool of recruits in our small community. As Lifeboat Press Officer and then Deputy Launching Authority, I soon became aware that his kindness, enthusiasm and dedication which, together with his outstanding seamanship, have been the driving force behind the Longhope lifeboat. I wish him all the very best on his retirement as Coxswain and I’m sure his ancestors would have been proud of him.”

Kevin’s skill and dedication have also been officially recognized by the RNLI on a number of occasions. He was accorded a vellum for his leadership and seamanship in 2004 when the lifeboat came to the rescue of the yacht Dasher and her three crew in wind speeds of up to 85 knots. And, in 2007, he and the volunteer crew were presented with a framed letter of thanks from the then Chairman, Admiral Sir Jock Slater, for the first major service in the new Tamar Class lifeboat, Helen Comrie, when they saved an injured man from tanker FR8 Venture in force 12 north westerly winds and a 15 metre swell.

John Budge, former Lifeboat Operations Manager and mechanic, said “Kevin has put his all into the station at Longhope. A conscientious leader and a patient teacher with time for everyone, he has been a star and a rock. He was made for the role of Coxswain, carrying with him the weight of lifeboat tradition on both sides of his family, which began with his great grandfather Thomas Gunn, the Bowman on the first Longhope Lifeboat.”

Ex Royal Navy serviceman, Alan Mackinnon, who joined the volunteer crew in 2018 said “I’ve had the great pleasure and privilege of working with Kevin during my time with the RNLI at Longhope. A vastly experienced and knowledgeable leader, he is one of the nicest and most professional people that I have ever worked with.”

And, beyond his role as coxswain, Kevin has always recognized and supported those that volunteer their time and energy to fundraise and support the work of the RNLI in our small community.

Trish Avis, current president of the Longhope Lifeboat Guild, said “Longhope Lifeboat Guild will very much miss Kevin, nothing was ever too much trouble for him in helping the Guild in their fundraising efforts. We wish him all the best in the future.”

Kevin’s last day as full time coxswain will be 19 May 2022, though I am happy to report that he will not be walking away entirely and will continue to be part of our crew at Longhope.

Thank you for your service and all the best to you, Kevin, from everyone at RNLI Longhope, supporters and friends everywhere!

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