Lifeboatmen are more used to dealing with shipwrecks than dreamboats, but volunteer crew members from Criccieth’s lifeboat station helped a groom-to-be propose before it was diverted from routine exercises to help recover a surfer’s kite.
The surprise marriage proposal involved the crew of the station’s Atlantic 85, Doris Joan, unveiling a banner on the lifeboat on behalf of the Harry Owen, asking his girlfriend, Beth Evans, to marry him as the couple stood on Criccieth pier.
Harry said: ‘It wasn’t easy to organise! Beth has been coming to Criccieth with her family for years, so I knew I wanted to propose here. Both our mums and her sister helped me and we were going to get a fishing boat to take out the banner, but then her mum suggested the lifeboat. Beth’s family has links to the lifeboat station here – her Aunt donated money for one of the lifeboats – so it seemed perfect.
‘The crew told us when their exercise night was and were happy to put the banner on the side of the launching trailer. I was already for 5.45pm but then I got a call to say they had an inspection, so it would be a bit later. I had to stall for a bit and keep Beth on the pier for another 45 minutes and when the lifeboat launched there was no banner on the trailer, so I was really worried! But it circled round in front of the pier and the crew unrolled the banner. I can’t thank the crew enough!’
Thankfully the unusual proposal was accepted!
Beth said: ‘I was shocked – we went down to watch the lifeboat crew do their training exercise and they launched, did a circle and then put the banner up. When I turned round Harry was down on bended knee. It was lovely – I’ve been visiting Criccieth and the lifeboat station for a long time so it was really sentimental. I’ll never forget it.’
Shortly afterwards, at 7.05pm as the crew continued with training aboard the lifeboat, HM Coastguard requested their assistance in recovering a kiteboard which had been spotted off Abererch beach by members of Pwllheli’s RNLI inshore lifeboat as they attended another incident. The kite’s owner had become detached from both the kite and board after getting into technical difficulty some three-quarters of a mile offshore; he’d managed to swim ashore and inform the Coastguard that he was safe and well, before a full-scale search was called.
The kite’s sailing rig was located and taken aboard the lifeboat. As it was being taken ashore the lifeboat came across the owner paddling out to sea in a kayak in an attempt to recover his board which was still missing. In view of the adverse conditions the lifeboat crew advised him not to proceed any further. He was then escorted safely ashore by the lifeboat.
Criccieth Lifeboat Operations Manager, Peter Williams commented:
“What began as a routine training evening was more action packed than usual. Thankfully we were able to assist the gentleman with his marriage proposal before being called into service. It goes to show that there’s no such thing as a ‘routine launch’!
Photo copyright: RNLI