Heartfelt tributes were paid to a ‘beloved’ former Burnham-On-Sea Coastguard whose funeral was held in the town on Friday (January 8th).
David Ilsley, 71, was a dedicated member of the Burnham Coastguard Rescue Team who served for more than 10 years before retiring from service. Mr Ilsley went on to volunteer for Burnham’s BARB Search & Rescue, the Coastguard Association charity and other community groups. He passed away in December.
The funeral procession, which included Coastguard and BARB trucks, and socially-distanced crewmembers, made its way along the seafront to the Coastguard Station where it paused for a minute’s silence.
It was then driven along the seafront to St Andrew’s Church, led by Town Crier Alastair Murray at the front. Dave’s coffin was carried into the church by Coastguard members, as pictured here.
The congregation numbers were restricted to comply with the Government’s current national Covid lockdown rules and social distancing was also in place.
During the service, there were warm tributes from Burnham Coastguard Station Officer Dave Welland, the Coastguard Association’s Ian Jefferies, BARB Chairman Mark Newman, and Dave Ilsley’s daughter Sharon Hands.
The service, conducted by Rev Sharon Eldergill, had a maritime theme, starting with Rod Stewart’s ‘Sailing’, followed by prayers and the poem ‘Sea Fever’. The choir sang two hymns ‘For Those In Peril On The Sea’ and ‘Here I Am Lord’ – but the congregation was asked not join in due to the Covid safety restrictions.
After several bible readings, the poem ‘The Ship’ was recited and the service ended with a recording of Dave’s favourite music, ‘Always Look On the Bright Side Of Life’, when the congregation clapped along but was asked not to sing in line with the restrictions. Interment followed at Cheddar Cemetery.
Dave Ilsley’s work in promoting sea safety and in saving lives along the coastline as a Coastguard and BARB volunteer was recounted alongside his other community activities plus light-hearted memories.
Mr Welland described Mr Ilsley as “probably one of the most popular coastguards in the UK given his work around the country with the Coastguard Association,” adding: “He was a true coastguard who served his community for over 10 years and loved every second of it. He would take time to chat with anyone and everyone and would always be there to support his teammates even in the darkest days.”