It is with great sadness Weymouth RNLI lifeboat station has heard of the death of former volunteer crew member and assistant mechanic Robert ‘Bobby’ Gray. He passed away on Friday 27th October after a short illness.
Bobby, a former boatman, was one of the longest serving volunteer lifeboat crew at Weymouth, serving for 25 years, until his retirement in 2000.
Joining as a crewmember in 1975 and becoming Assistant Mechanic in 1989, Bobby was aboard the lifeboat on the Bronze Medal service to the ‘Sunbeam Chaser’.30 years ago on the night of the famous hurricane, the lifeboat launched to go to the aid of the catamaran 18 miles South of Portland Bill.
Bobby was a well known character around the harbour, and a ferry man for many years, which enabled him to be close to the Lifeboat Station.
The thoughts of all at the lifeboat station are with his wife Margaret, his children and their families during this sad time.
Weymouth lifeboat Coxswain Andy Sargent and Lifeboat Operations manager Malcolm Wright said;
“Bobby served on the Lifeboat for 25 years.
He started as crewmember in January 1975, and became Assistant Mechanic in 1989. A position he held until his retirement.
bobby was a highly respected & formidable member of the crew.
New recruits held the greatest respect for him, and indeed, held him in awe. They will never forget his guidance & tuition he gave them.
One notable rescue Bob undertook as Acting Coxswain was of the yacht ‘Surcouf’. She had broadcast a ‘Pan Pan’ requesting help on 27th September 1995.
The vessel was in rough sea in the Race off Portland Bill. Bobby took the Weymouth Lifeboat ‘Tony Vandervell’ to sea, & skilfully saved the lives of the 2 elderly persons on board, and also the yacht.
Bobby was recognised by the Divisional Inspector of Lifeboats South for undertaking the rescue in ‘an extremely competent manner under difficult conditions”.
Many holiday makers will have been rowed across the harbour between the Nothe Steps & Pavilion whilst receiving a lively, informative & colourful running commentary as they went.
The RNLI & crews gained greatly from his contribution aboard the Lifeboats, as did many a seafarer.
His one liners and ‘how it is’ attitude was an enlightenment to all.
He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.”
Bobby’s funeral will be held at 1030 on Thursday 9th November at Holy Trinity Church.