These RNLI life-savers proved they were the ‘best men’ at a fellow crew member’s wedding - even though they missed part of the ceremony.
RNLI volunteers Ian Butter, Keith Horrocks, Phil Denham, Colin Lowe, Luke Minns and Kyle King all left the wedding of David Warburton and Linzi Young to rush to the rescue of a kayaker who had capsized off Cleveleys on Sunday.
RNLI deputy launching authority Ian Butter, 61, said: “Inevitably just as the wedding was finishing and we were waiting to shake hands at the door the pagers went off.
“Our heads went up like a bunch of meerkats and we started pushing through everybody to get to the door.”
The team made their way to Cleveleys beach at around 1.30pm.
The kayaker had been helped to shore by members of the public, and four people were given first aid for cold water shock by a trained lifeboat volunteer before paramedics arrived.
They were then called to a kite surfer off Fleetwood who had become exhausted in the water and had to be taken to shore.
Ian said: “We have a very fast launch time in Blackpool: an average of six minutes from the pager to the water. I drove the launching tractor for the large boat down the beach looking very smart indeed.
“While we were getting the lifeboat out the crew were getting ready. It takes them just 30 seconds.
“David was firmly told that he was not to respond to his pager, not just by us but by his wife. As he saw us leaving, as a lifeboat volunteer it’s natural instinct to follow, but he stood by his wife.
“With the offshore breeze and the tide going out, people can very easily get swept out and it’s next stop, Ireland. People can get caught out.
“That’s what we’re there for, 24/7. If it’s Christmas Day and Christmas dinner’s on the table and the pager goes, we will go. That is what we commit to.
“On a sunny bank holiday it’s almost inevitable that something was going to happen. It’s just fortunate that it didn’t happen at the moment the vicar said ‘does anybody have any just cause’!”
Despite missing out on the wedding photos, all six crew members made it back to the Great Hall at Mains, Poulton, in time for dinner.
RNLI communications officer Esther Lowe, who also attended the wedding at Highfield Methodist Church, said: “We had just come out of the church and they were just about to do a picture with the lifeboat oars when the call came through.
“The groom was one of our lifeboat crew, and when you’ve got a lifeboat crew member getting married a lot of guests are going to be lifeboat members as well.
“They respond day and night, 365 days a year, regardless of what they are doing or what their plans are. They are an incredibly dedicated group of people.”