Life-saving must run in the blood - blog post image

Life-saving must run in the blood

  • Caister Lifeboats
  • 13 Aug 2019

Life-saving must run in the blood of the Caister Men Who Never Turn Back, with generations of families honouring decades-old traditions. But on a chance visit to Caister Lifeboat (on Monday 12 August 2019) with her sons - one of them on his honeymoon - Julie Miller was taken out for a trip on Britain’s Fastest Lifeboat.

"It was absolutely amazing,” said Julie, stepping off the Bernard Matthews II all-weather lifeboat. “We have been at the Pleasure Beach but this top’s all of the rides there.”

Her son Christopher added: "The power of that boat is amazing."

Mrs Miller, 58, from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, part of the Canadian territory of British Columbia, was visiting her mother with her two sons, Christopher, 27 and Thomas, 25.

From left: Zoe, Christopher, Thomas & Julie

Christopher married his fiancee Zoe, 26 three weeks earlier on the 20th of July and after honeymooning in Portugal, he brought his wife to see the lifeboat where his Great Great Great Great Grandfather James Haylett served as a lifeboatman.

Their visit coincided with an exercise launch, and when the crew heard they were descendants of James Haylett they were immediately invited on board.

Haylett was credited with saving many lives at Caister and in the inquest into the deaths of nine crew in the Beauchamp lifeboat disaster of 1901, was credited with coining the phrase Caister Men Never Turn Back.

“We are on the last leg of our honeymoon and it’s the perfect way to end it,” said Christopher. 

From left: Zoe & Christopher

"We came down here by fluke, really. Hadn’t planned it and came down her eta see the boat launch and another relative of ours Derek George (Caister Lifeboat company secretary) invited us to go out on the boat, so that was really special."

“I’m originally a Caister girl,” said Julie. “But what’s quite unbelievable, is that two of the people James Haylett saved are related to me. One of them was Walter Haylett, my great grandfather, and had he not been saved, me and my sons would not be here."

Christopher added: "The history of it, that our ancestors that long ago would have launched in much tougher conditions, rowing lifeboats - and now their great, great, great, great grandsons have now been out on the modern-day equivalent"

Younger brother Thomas said: “I have known that story for a long long time. This is my fifth time to England and I come to the lifeboat shed each time and read the stories and the fact that you launched tonight was really flukey.”

The brothers continue the lifesaving work of their four-times great-grandfather James Haylett. Thomas is a volunteer firefighter on Vancouver Island, Canada. HIs elder brother Christopher is a conservation officer and game reserve warden - trained in, and has given, live-saving assistance to victims of bear and cougar attacks.

From left: Christopher & Thomas

When the Caister Lifeboat Beauchamp capsized in 1901, killing nine of the 12 crew - five of the dead were relatives of Mrs Miller. Two more family members survived - Walter Haylett and John Hubbard.

“I get thinking how different it was for them and how brave they were,” added Julie. "They [today’s crew] are still brave but then the conditions were harder and in 1901 with the Beauchamp disaster, and how scary it was.”

Reflecting on their trip out to the Scroby Sand Bank and wind farm, Thomas and his mother Julie reflected on the trip, wondering what their forebears would have thought of the lifeboats in service at Caister almost 120 years since the Beauchamp disaster.

Thomas said: "We go out on boats and fish a lot, but the power of that [engine] when it  accelerated was very impressive."

Julie added: ”I just cannot believe how fast it took off and how quickly it got going. 

”It was absolutely amazing. Having those ancestors in my mind and the struggles they went through to launch lifeboats and now how quickly and easily you can get these out to rescue people is amazing.

"It makes me very proud to be who I am and to have family and ancestors who were very brave, put their lives on the line to save people and I’m very proud that I have these sons doing the same thing."

From left: Thomas, Julie, Zoe & Christopher, 

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