King's Birthday Honours List: Awards for RNLI volunteers and a Scarborough paramedic

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Two RNLI volunteers and a Scarborough paramedic who inspired the Restart a Heart campaign in Yorkshire have been recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours List.

John Porter, 76, of Scarborough, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for voluntary services to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

John, who is visits officer, water safety advisor and fundraiser at the RNLI’s Scarborough Lifeboat Station, has given more than 40 years of service to the charitable organisation, holding various roles during that time.

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His first involvement with the RNLI came in 1980 when he and his late wife sold raffle tickets outside Tesco in their hometown of York and at Filey Lifeboat Station. In one particular year, they raised £16,000 from raffle ticket sales alone.

Neil Williamson, curator of the RNLI Whitby Lifeboat Museum, has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the King's Birthday Honours ListNeil Williamson, curator of the RNLI Whitby Lifeboat Museum, has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the King's Birthday Honours List
Neil Williamson, curator of the RNLI Whitby Lifeboat Museum, has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the King's Birthday Honours List

Following a permanent relocation to Scarborough, he joined the crew for 35 years and subsequently became a head launch before retiring from operational duties at 65. During this period, Scarborough is credited with saving 175 lives.

Since 2000 he has focused on visitor engagement and fundraising alongside crewing, including selling raffle tickets. For many Saturdays he took his granddaughter to The Grand Hotel’s ballroom where he would give a short talk on the RNLI in the interval and sold raffle tickets to win a lifeboat teddy.

He is regularly heard speaking on all things RNLI for organisations such as Rotary International, Round Table and the Women’s Institute.

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Over the past 30 years he has built up a team of volunteer presenters as youth groups return to the station year after year to be captivated by life-saving stories.

He never misses an opportunity to promote the work of the RNLI, be that on a local or national level, such as when he secured funds to provide new life jackets for the entire crew at Berwick-upon-Tweed, raising the required £25,000 in just over a month.

He also manages to find time to carry out the online accounting duties for several RNLI fundraising branches who have struggled to recruit their own treasurer.

He has become an extremely successful face-to-face volunteer, recruiting 139 new members to the RNLI in 2022 alone, with a projected lifetime income of £48,000.

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He has been recognised by a RNLI Excellence in Volunteering Award in 2017 and 40-year Long Service Award in 2021.

Also recognised in the honours list is Neil Williamson, of Whitby, who has been awarded the BEM.

Neil, 65, who is the curator at the RNLI Whitby Lifeboat Museum and launching authority at the RNLI Whitby Lifeboat Station, has received the honour for voluntary services to the RNLI.

He is the driving force behind the redevelopment of Whitby Lifeboat Museum. First opened in the 1950s, the museum is the RNLI’s most visited heritage site.

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He knew he was taking on a project that exposed him to challenges way above normal volunteer levels - with the additional difficulties of the Covid pandemic.

The old museum had little to inspire children and young adults, a gap he quickly identified. It now welcomes school groups from across Yorkshire and further afield.

From the start, he was involved with selecting the designers, alongside RNLI procurement, heritage and marketing teams. The building required significant remedial work and he was on hand at all hours of the day - from being present to allow access right through to co-ordinating important decisions on brickwork and pointing finishes.

His eye for detail and ability to work with contractors have ensured the building is finished to a high standard while maintaining the integrity of the old lifeboat station.

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He also led on moving hundreds of artefacts into storage, carefully labelling and cataloguing every item to industry standards.

This included a 104-year-old lifeboat – with the help of 24 "pulling” volunteers, he coordinated the move through the narrow streets of Whitby, seeing it as an opportunity to celebrate the project and raise a record in Whitby of more than £3,000 in two hours.

He then formed a team of volunteers who worked for more than 800 hours on the restoration of the lifeboat, removing decades of varnish before restoring her to become the star of the new museum.

Negotiating gallons of historic specification paint for free, he saved several thousands of pounds, and starred in an episode of BBC TV series CountryFile featuring the boat restoration.

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Another recipient on the honours list is Jason Carlyon, of Scarborough, who has been awarded an MBE.

Jason, 49, who is community engagement lead and paramedic at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, has been recognised for services to cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.

He is a qualified paramedic and has worked for Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) since 1996.

In 2014, following a donation of £500 from a patient who suffered and survived cardiac arrest, he had the idea of funding mass CPR training for the public. The Restart a Heart (RSAH) campaign in Yorkshire was born.

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A small group was pulled together and in the first year 50 schools signed up to the campaign and more than 11,500 students were trained, supported by 210 volunteers.

He was invited to South Korea to attend the Seoul Citizen CPR conference and the RSAH programme won two Yorkshire Post Best Health Awards.

In early 2016 he joined the restart a heart strategy group and alongside the clinical leads reached agreement with the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives to involve all UK ambulance services in an annual mass training campaign.

He linked with Ambulance Victoria in Australia, which became part of the RSAH campaign in 2016. This link preceded the establishment of the World Restart a Heart (WRAH) campaign in 2018.

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The first World Restart a Heart campaign was launched in 2018 and by 2019 it was estimated that 5.4 million people had been trained, with activity on every continent.

In Yorkshire during 2018 and 2019, more than 75,000 students were trained in CPR in over 250 schools. This took the number of schools engaged with RSAH to 82 per cent across Yorkshire.

He has also worked with many councils across Yorkshire to ensure there is a provision of defibrillators.

In 2020, training was provided via webinars. Additionally, the Pillow Partner scheme was launched to train people remotely with a simple, inexpensive training aid during the coronavirus pandemic.

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After considerable campaigning, and with the support of the RCUK, CPR training was included in the school curriculum in the UK.

He has contributed to two research papers looking at the effectiveness of training techniques and the increase in bystander CPR.

In total, more than 60 people from Yorkshire and Humberside have received honours in the King’s Birthday Honours List 2024, published today (Friday) by the Cabinet Office.

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