Picture shows: Paul Daly (L) presenting Alan McDiarmid (R) with his 20 year service medal
Credit: RNLI Kessock
Author: Dan Holland
Alan McDiarmid who has volunteered for the RNLI at Kessock since its conception has been awarded a 20 year Long Service Badge in recognition of his dedication to the charity that saves lives at sea.
Alan was one of the very first people to volunteer in 1993 when the RNLI placed a D Class lifeboat in the Black Isle village for a single season’s evaluation.
In the following 21 years, as a crewman and latterly a lifeboat helmsman, he has continually commited himself to the rest of the crew as a constant presence at the lifeboat station during weekly training. Alan regularly took the helm of the lifeboat leading other volunteers to sea during shouts. He continues to provide his years of experience for others to learn from.
More recently Alan has become Chairman of Kessock Lifeboat Branch. During the recent lifeboat naming ceremony he spoke very proudly of his involvement with the RNLI in Kessock and highlighted just how much the RNLI means to him.
As RNLI Kessock has evolved other the years Alan has seen the volunteer crew grow in numbers and move into it’s current lifeboat station at Craigton Point. However, he still fondly recounts the days when the old ticket office for the Kessock ferry doubled up as the crew room, the days when your drysuit never really dried properly and at times the lifeboat had to be dropped off the end of the pier to launch it.
Awarding Alan his Long Service Badge, Paul Daly, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager for the Highlands said: ‘I am honoured to award Alan his Long Service Badge for his sterling work at Kessock lifeboat station. His commitment to the station has been unwavering over the years. He has fulfilled most of the roles at the station, crew, helm, Tractor Driver and now manages the lifeboat community at Kessock as the Chairman. His desire to help the wider community and to save lives at sea is a fantastic demonstration of the volunteer commitment. Without such commitment the RNLI could no longer exist as a charity or as a lifesaving organisation.’
Alan McDiarmid himself said: ‘ 20 years with the RNLI has gone like a flash. Mostly it’s the people that have made the memories just like it’s all those people who have made Kessock a great lifeboat station. I’ve been lucky to live close to the boat and have made it on to hundreds of shouts. It’s good to remember that there’s a story behind each one of them, sometimes sad sometimes not so bad.’
Recalling one of his most memorable shouts, Alan continued: ‘I often think back to a shout to a yacht with two persons on board caught in surf on the bar at Nairn. The big thing was cooperation between ourselves and Invergordon Lifeboat crew . A long and difficult shout in tough conditions but everyone did their job well. Only thing was myself and Alan Lipp from invergordon had taken their X boat through the surf a few times to get a line attached to the casualty vessel, busting our engine in the process. Kessock towed them off and passed them on to invergordon. All done and dusted except the both of the lifeboats made us wait on the beach just a wee bit longer than was necessary, before coming back for us!’
Three other Kessock volunteers were recognised with awards at their recent station inspection.
Gary Friedman was awarded a pair of inscribed binoculars in recogniotion of his 10 years in the position of Lifeboat operations Manager.
Senior helmsman and mechanic Stan MacRae was award the Queen’s Diamond Jubille Medal
Dan Holland was recognised with a RNLI Bronze Badge for his valuable service to charity.