Bridlington RNLI volunteer gets national award

Albert Wilby received an award from the RNLI for 16 years volunteering service
Albert Wilby received an award from the RNLI for 16 years volunteering service

A DEDICATED volunteer who runs two shops for the RNLI in Bridlington has received a national award in recognition of his efforts.

At the RNLI’s Annual Presentation of Awards in London last Thursday, May 17, Albert Wilby, RNLI volunteer shop manager in Bridlington, received the RNLI Retail Award from the Duke of Gloucester on behalf of all the volunteers who help keep the Bridlington RNLI shops open.

He travelled to the ceremony with his four daughters, who watched as he received the award in front of a large audience of RNLI volunteers, supporters and staff.

Albert, aged 69, said he was thrilled to receive the award on behalf of everyone who volunteers in the two RNLI shops in Bridlington: “It’s a massive honour and I’m very proud that the Bridlington RNLI shops have been recognised in this way.

“None of us do it for awards but I see this as a bit of a thank you for everyone involved. When we’re working in the shop on the sea front, we often see the lifeboat crew going out to rescue someone.

“They’re the ones who really deserve awards, and they’re the reason we keep the shops open.” Albert has been volunteering for the RNLI in Bridlington for 16 years and now has a team of around 30 shop volunteers.

Last year, the charity’s takings increased by more than 50 per cent in the town after a new shop was opened on King Street.

Once Albert had secured the shop at a minimal rent from the Lord Feoffees, it was fitted out, stocked and open in less than a month – a phenomenal effort said RNLI Regional Retail Manager, Alison Thomson.

“This was a big team effort but Albert was undoubtedly the driving force and did a brilliant job getting the shop open in record time,” said Alison.

“Albert is very modest about what he does for the RNLI but his dedication, enthusiasm and determination has helped the RNLI raise significantly more money in Bridlington, which ultimately will help our volunteer crews save lives at sea.

“No one deserves this award more than Albert and the rest of the team at Bridlington.”

The new shop replaced the smaller one at the side of the all-weather lifeboat station, while the beach front shop at the inshore lifeboat station is still running.

To fit out the King Street store, Albert recruited help from a number of other RNLI volunteers to save costs on tradesmen but painted the walls and laid the flooring himself – not too difficult a task as he was a carpet fitter until retirement a few years ago.

Its town centre location means the charity is raising money year-round rather than mainly in the peak holiday season and it is expect to raise around £40,000 a year.