A LIFEBOAT volunteer recognised for 30 years of service has vowed he has no plans to retire.

Alistair Punton was recently presented with a medal to honour his three decades with Dunbar RNLI.

The 64-year-old revealed that his first callout actually took place before he had officially signed up.

He said: “I’d spent a lot of time on boats – I’d had little cabin cruisers of my own and been on fishing boats – so the coxswain at the time, Noel Wight, invited me to join them at North Berwick’s lifeboat day that year.

“Approaching the Bass on our way back, we got a shout to a local dive boat in trouble.

“Iain McDougall, who is still part of the crew, had taken his bagpipes to the open day and played them as we went to pick up the dive boat.

“It was a different style back then!

“After the shout, Noel said: ‘So, are you going to join now?’

‘“I suppose I’d better,’ I said.

“So, my very first experience of the lifeboat was a shout.”

Born and bred in Dunbar, Alistair joined the lifeboat crew in 1993.

He served on both the station’s inshore lifeboat (ILB) and all-weather lifeboat (ALB), and was quickly trained up as a mechanic.

One of his first official service calls was to a local fishing trawler that radioed the coastguard for help, saying it had “broken down, was taking on water and drifting to shore”.

He added: “All shouts are memorable but some you want to forget.

“Over the years, we’ve had to deal with some challenging incidents and you deal with them as best you can but you don’t always hear what the outcome was for the casualty.

“One that stands out is that of a young boy who had a nasty fall at Pease Bay. As well as the lifeboat, there were paramedics, the Coastguard, police and a helicopter.

“He was in a lot of pain but at least that was a good sign he hadn’t suffered a severe injury to his neck or back.

“I always wonder how that turned out for him.”

Alistair’s day job throughout his time on the lifeboat crew was as an electrician at the Tarmac cement plant, formerly Associated Portland Cement Manufacturers when he began his apprenticeship, and he worked there for 47 years until his retirement last year.

Having been trained in first aid for work, Alistair has also often been called upon to deal with casualties at sea.

However, it is not just on the open waves that his training has come in useful.

Alistair said: “I was up Glencoe one day and had just come down from climbing Bidean Nam Bian when I saw a police motor come flying into the car park, shortly followed by Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team.

“There were only four of them so I introduced myself and, when they realised I knew first aid, they asked me to join them.

“We went back up the hill I’d just climbed, found the woman and managed to walk her down.

“She said she hadn’t expected that to happen.

“I said: ‘I bet you also didn’t expect this – I’m lifeboat crew!”’

The actual anniversary for dad-of-one Alistair, whose son Daniel is a corporal in the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, was last year but he was recently presented with a medal to mark his 30-year service with the RNLI.

But, although he will turn 65 in October, Alistair has no plans to hang up his yellow wellies just yet.

He said: “I’m not ready to retire – as long as I’m passed medically fit and my line manager agrees I can stay on.”