Alistair’s coastline vigil over

Retiring coastguard Alistair Heyworth (fourth from left) and crew-mates.
Retiring coastguard Alistair Heyworth (fourth from left) and crew-mates.
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ST ANNES Coastguard station officer Alistair Heyworth is standing down after three decades of dedicated service.

He will call it a day when he turns 65 next month – but stresses he would be happy to carry on for some years yet if he were allowed.

The father-of-two started his voluntary service with the coastguard back in 1981 – the year before the opening of the current station building on the seafront close to Highbury Road.

And he vividly recalls the days before the purpose-built new headquarters was launched, when the coastguard vehicle was kept at the former Premium Bonds building in St Annes and lookout duties were undertaken from Lytham’s Ribble Cruising Club.

But it was some months after his initial involvement that Alistair was taken on as a full-time volunteer with the service – and he was beaten to the punch by his two brothers Michael and Gordon.

“We all actually applied together – but there were only two vacancies initially for full-time volunteer positions and as they were older than me, they got them,” recalled Alistair.

“But although it was February 1983 before another full time a vacancy came along, I have spent a full 30 years helping out in all capacities – a lot longer than either of my brothers – and I will really miss it.

“Initially at least, it will take some getting used to not having to get up at three in the morning on calls.”

Alistair, who lives in Church Road St Annes with his wife of 40 years, Margaret, was appointed station officer 12 years ago and reckons he has seen some 30 colleagues come and go during his lengthy stint with the service.

But he is quick to stress that he is not the longest-serving volunteer at the station – that honour goes to colleague Barry Thornber, who is due to retire next year when he reaches 65 – after 34 years’ service.

Throughout his years of service, Alistair has also run his own pump engineering business, which he went into straight from school at the then Ansdell Secondary Modern – now Lytham St Annes High. Born in Blackburn, he moved to the Fylde at the age of nine, initially attending the old Sydney Street School.

Of all the incidents he has dealt with, he recalls the Riverdance ferry disaster off Cleveleys in early 2008 as the most testing.