Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat, Seafaring In The Blood

by Sue Beesley

Mike Williams is Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat's 2nd Coxswain, having joined the crew as a volunteer in 1990. The lifeboat always played a huge part in his formative years as his grandmother's brother, John Matthews was coxswain of Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat for nearly 40 years, during which time he was the recipient of an RNLI silver medal.

John Matthews's nephew was Dic Evans, Wales's most important recent maritime hero, whose bravery earned him two RNLI Gold Medals.

He also won an MBE in 1969. Dic was second coxswain to John Matthews, until the latter's retirement in April 1954, when Dic Evans succeeded him in the post of Coxswain.

He eventually retired as Coxswain in 1970, aged 65, having completed 49 years of service, 16 of which were as Coxswain.

Says Mike: "My father was a seaman who was brought up in Amlwch Port, my grandmother was raised in Moelfre, and I sailed and lobster fished regularly as a young boy, often being taken on family trips to look at the ships in the

Both sea and ships were ingrained in my upbringing and post-school I wanted to join the merchant navy, intending it to be my career. However, my father persuaded me against it as he considered there was no future with the British fleet.

During the 1980's I rekindled my passion for sailing by taking part in offshore racing in a 36ft racing yacht between Anglesey and Ireland and the Isle of Man."

Mike is now a partner in the successful furnishing business, D C Williams in Llangefni and apart from his volunteer work with Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat, has been a governor at Llanbedrgoch Primary School for the past 20 years where all 5 of his children have attended.

More recently Mike represented Moelfre Partnership in the establishment of an appeal committee of 5 individuals who successfully raised £40,000 for a bronze sculpture of the late Dic Evans.

The appeal fund was boosted by a huge auction of some original works of 30 or so Welsh artists at Oriel Ynys Môn and there were considerable donations by individuals and organisations.

The committee, chaired by Lord Stanley of Alderley, commissioned sculptress, Sam Holland to create the memorial and the result is the magnificent 2 metre fine art bronze statue which was unveiled by Prince Charles on 23.11.04.

The statue stands outside the Seawatch Centre in Moelfre as a memorial to all lifeboat crews, past and present, and their spirit, duty and courage.

Said Mike: "Dic Evans won two RNLI gold medals for saving the lives of crews of two ships stranded off North Wales in 1959 and 1966.

In both rescues he and the lifeboat crews had to brave storm force winds of more than 100mph to save lives.

Basically, he went to hell and back twice. In the first rescue of the Hindlea in October 1959, he managed on eight occasions to pull the lifeboat alongside and snatch eight men off the ship."

In the second rescue Dic Evans, then aged 61, helped to save the crew of the Greek freighter, Nafsiporos which had lost power and was drifting dangerously close to the notorious Skerries, off Holyhead.

Again the coxswain and his crew braved storm force winds to help rescue the ship's crew, despite their lifeboat suffering great damage.

As Mike states: "It is remarkable that the village of Moelfre has had five gold RNLI winners. It shows the importance of the Moelfre RNLI lifeboat station on the North Wales coast which can be very treacherous."

Generations of Mike's family have clearly played an important part in putting Moelfre RNLI Lifeboat firmly on the map.

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