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Oban Lifeboat Crew Thankful To Long-Serving Member Upon His Retirement

15th July 2020
Oban RNLI volunteer Dr Colin Wilson is stepping down Oban RNLI volunteer Dr Colin Wilson is stepping down Photo: RNLI/Leonie Mead

Oban RNLI in western Scotland has expressed sadness at the retirement of Dr Colin Wilson as a volunteer crew member.

Dr Wilson has served the RNLI in Oban since 1990, first joining when the station had the Brede class lifeboat Ann Ritchie.

It was a love of the sea that drew Dr Wilson to sign up with the lifesaving charity. “I wanted to help those in distress,” he said.

Since joining, Dr Wilson has become a dedicated crew member and an integral part of the station’s family, contributing to many callouts, training exercises and fundraising events.

Over his 30 years with the volunteer crew, Dr Wilson attended a whopping 660 callouts totalling over 1,100 hours at sea, covering 12,668 miles — half-way around the world — and burning 159,891 litres of fuel. And that’s not including exercises and delivery trips.

His knowledge and expertise in both diving medicine and treating divers with decompression sickness has proved invaluable over the years

Dr Wilson’s 35 years as a local GP and time as a senior partner of the Lorn Medical Centre have seen his voluntary role extend further within the RNLI, as has contributed as a Lifeboat Medical Adviser and Regional Medical Adviser for Scotland as well as serving on the charity’s medical committee.

His knowledge and expertise in both diving medicine and treating divers with decompression sickness has proved invaluable over the years.

Finlo Cottier, a deputy coxswain and crew member of Oban lifeboat who has served alongside Dr Wilson since 2001, said: “It’s always reassuring when you go to sea with Colin amongst the crew. A special blend of knowledge, wisdom and humour.”

Another longtime cremate, Ian Henry, said: “Colin has been an absolute stalwart and aside from being a mentor, font of knowledge, medical advisor both formal and informal, medicinal coffee prescriber, he has first and foremost been a friend. I know I speak for everyone when I say the door is always open.”

Of the hundreds of callouts he attended, the one that sticks out most for Dr Wilson was just two years ago, on the night of 28 July 2018.

“It was a really nasty night with winds gusting 60 knots and we received three separate Mayday calls,” he said. “It was a great crew all working together for good results in adverse weather.”

Another was on 10 January 1998, as documented in Willie Melville’s book The Story of Oban Lifeboat:

One of those services that brings tremendous satisfaction to a coxswain, his crew and the whole station took place on 10 January. Oban Coastguard reported that a canoeist was overdue at Cuil Bay, Duror…

The lifeboat arrived on scene at 1952, first making a counter-clockwise search of the island. As she was veering offshore to avoid the shallows her searchlight picked up the canoeist clinging to the waterlogged canoe some 2 cables offshore.

Crew member Dr Colin Wilson assessed the casualty's condition as being serious enough to have him airlifted by the rescue helicopter, also on scene, to hospital in Oban - meantime he was given oxygen on the lifeboat and made as warm as possible.

Dr Wilson recalled: “This man was extremely hypothermic and was lucky to be found alive. He survived, and was discharged home the next day. A great result.”

When asked what he will miss most, Dr Wilson said: “I will miss working as part of a really great crew and team. I have shared in both the joy of many successes and in the sadness surrounding some less happy events, providing care and support wherever possible.

“I hope to continue my association with Oban Lifeboat by volunteering in a different capacity.”

Dr Wilson also passed on his thanks to fellow crew members, “past and present, for great memories of working in a fantastic team, in training, in fundraising and ultimately, while out at sea on shouts”.

He added: “I also salute all those who support the RNLI throughout the country in the many ways they do, helping those in trouble at sea.”

Afloat.ie Team

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