Two long-serving hovercraft pilots at Burnham charity BARB were thanked for their eight years of volunteering during the group’s AGM on Friday (May 24th).

EDF regional boss David Eccles was the special guest at the meeting, held at Burnham’s Princess Theatre. He heard about a busy 12 months for the life-saving charity, which is now in its 21st year.

He told the audience he is a “strong supporter” of Burnham’s marine rescue services and was honoured to have been invited, adding that he hoped the visit would “create stronger links between Burnham and Hinkley Point.”

He was given a tour of the hovercraft station by BARB’s crew and also visited Burnham Coastguards, the RNLI and Burnham’s community-run tourist information centre during the evening.

Long-serving volunteers Dave Bailey and Clive Weal, who have retired after eight and a half year’s service as hovercraft pilots, were thanked for their dedication and involvement. They were presented with certificates and the annual telescope award, which is given to those volunteers who have contributed most to the charity’s welfare.

BARB’s Chairman Mark Newman thanked the charity’s many fundraisers and supporters for their “hugely appreciated support” over the year. Among those highlighted were Brean’s Diamond Farm Holiday Park, Burnham’s Trinity Close Christmas Lights Team, Somerset Motorcycle Group, Burnham Lions and Burnham Moose Lodge.

Operations Manager Mike Lowe praised BARB’s volunteers and their families for their “tremendous support and team spirit” during a busy, and at times challenging, year.

Certificates were presented to several of the charity’s recent fundraisers and crew by BARB President Neville Jones and Mr Eccles.

During the election of officers, those re-appointed were Chairman Mark Newman, Operations Manager Mike Lowe, Deputy Operations Manager Graham Hallsworth, BARB Treasurer Mike Ross and BARB Secretary Roger Flower. A new Vice Chairman, Julie Dean, was elected.

Burnham’s Mayor Martin Cox was also in attendance, representing the Town Council, and in a brief speech recounted the early history of BARB when he was involved in helping to found the charity.

Pictured: Top, volunteers Dave Bailey and Clive Weal with David Eccles and, above, the BARB committee and BARB crewmembers (pics Mike Lang)