When Andy Dodd became Coxswain of the Hoylake Lifeboat in 2016, he realised a childhood ambition that saw him following in his father’s footsteps and continuing a long family tradition of saving lives at sea.
After five years at the helm, and many more serving on the Hoylake crew, Andy is now taking on a new challenge in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
Andy has been promoted to Area Lifesaving Manager within the RNLI and will be stepping down as Hoylake RNLI Coxswain later this year. In his new role, Andy will be responsible for providing support to five lifeboat stations in Cardigan Bay. He brings with him his considerable experience of volunteering and working in the RNLI and the wider maritime sector.
Andy’s long service with the RNLI began when he joined the Hoylake Lifeboat crew in 1994. He volunteered in a number of different roles beginning as shore crew, before joining the crew on board Hoylake’s all-weather Mersey class lifeboat Lady of Hilbre. He later qualified as a navigator and became Deputy 2nd Coxswain in 2003.
The following year, Andy was voted by the lifeboat crew to become Hoylake RNLI’s 2nd Coxswain. He then became Assistant Mechanic in 2007, before being appointed by the RNLI as Hoylake’s full-time 2nd Coxswain/ Mechanic in 2009.
This period saw Hoylake RNLI move its lifesaving operations from its historic Victorian lifeboat station to a new modern building on the site of the seaside town’s former outdoor baths.
In 2010 Andy became Hoylake RNLI’s training coordinator, ensuring that the volunteer crew were able to develop important lifesaving and seagoing skills. After 20 years with the RNLI, Andy was awarded his long service badge in 2014.
This was also a historic year for Hoylake RNLI, seeing the arrival of the station’s new state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboat Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood. Andy was part of the crew that brought the Shannon class back to her new home on 1 December 2014. The occasion was bittersweet as just 10 days later, Andy served as Coxswain on the Lady of Hilbre’s final launch from Hoylake – commanding the beloved Mersey class lifeboat, on which he had begun his RNLI service, for the last time.
On 14 February 2016, Andy took over as Hoylake RNLI’s new full-time Coxswain/ Mechanic – the first in the station’s history. He also became the fourth member of the Dodd family to serve as Coxswain. Andy’s father, David Dodd MBE, has been a Hoylake RNLI crew member for 61 years and was Coxswain from 1997 to 1998. He still volunteers at the lifeboat station.
Andy’s great-grandfather, Thomas Dodd, was Hoylake RNLI Coxswain from 1894 to 1916 and was awarded the RNLI’s silver medal for gallantry for a rescue in 1902. His son, Arthur, took over as Coxswain in 1916, carrying out the role until 1919.
In Andy’s first year as Coxswain, Hoylake RNLI saw another major change to its operations when the Inshore Rescue Hovercraft Hurley Spirit arrived on station. Andy led the significant efforts to bring this unique RNLI craft on service at Hoylake and became one of the station’s first ever Hovercraft Commanders. Most recently, Andy has provided leadership and support to the Hoylake crew throughout the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking about his time as Coxswain, Andy said: ‘It’s been an honour serving alongside such a fantastic team over the years. I’ve made many friends and have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Hoylake Lifeboat Station. It’s also been a privilege to serve the community.’
He added: ‘I’d like to thank everyone who supports us in so many different ways, from donations to dropping off biscuits and cake for all the team. I wish my successor the best of luck. They will be very lucky to have such an amazing team around them.’
Andy will remain as Hoylake RNLI Coxswain until his successor is appointed and will continue his lifelong support for the lifeboat station that has been such an important part of his personal and professional life.
Main image credit: RNLI/Nigel Millard – All other images: Hoylake RNLI
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