Tributes have been paid to a well-known, community-spirited Burnham-On-Sea resident who sadly passed away at the weekend.
Dave Ilsley, 71, a former long-standing member of Burnham Coastguards, BARB Search & Rescue and the town’s St Andrew’s Church, died on Saturday following a period of illness.
Scores of warm tributes have been paid to Dave, who spent many years as a Burnham Coastguard, ‘retiring’ in 2011. He then gave much of his time to helping others and visiting Coastguard stations around the country, raising funds for the Coastguard Association.
He also volunteered at Burnham’s hovercraft rescue charity BARB for many years, and helped with community activities at St Andrew’s Church.
A Burnham Coastguard spokesman says: “David Ilsley was popular among the Burnham community and probably one of the most popular Coastguards in the UK. Joining in 2001, Dave was a long-serving dedicated member of the Burnham Coastguard team and was involved in many rescues, saving lives, helping others and even attended the Gloucester floods where he drove Coastguard teams around to where they were needed most all the while raising spirits and checking on everyone to ensure they were OKI.”
“Dave Ilsley was a true Coastguard who served his community for over 10 years and loved every second of it. He would take time out of his busy schedule to arrange school visits and give talks to children on the dangers of the beach and teach them what to do in an emergency.”
“He would take time to chat with anyone and everyone and would always be there to support his teammates even in the darkest days. This was never more prevalent than after the Lelaina incident where he showed his strength and heart by constantly checking up on the team and his support through one of the toughest times in our history.”
“Dave was one of life’s bright lights and we will forever remember his chirpy chorus of “always look on the bright side of life” and his “Hello Shipmate” greeting that always followed the self-acclaimed Rear Admiral of the Yellow, if you were lucky it was even ‘cuddle a coastguard day’.”
“It was a sad day when Dave retired from the team but he continued supporting the Coastguards on a more personal level with his role within the Coastguard Association.
This is a charity that is independent of our Government agency that helps Coastguards in their time of need.”
In September, he raised money for the Association by setting up a seafront stall, as featured here, pictured above.
“Dave travelled the country meeting Coastguard teams in his CGA role spreading his positivity and passion for all things Coastguard. As Dave would always say “us Coastguards stick togevver.” Burnham Coastguard will always have such treasured memories of Dave and the laughter we shared. We send his family our thoughts and love. He was one of our most beloved team members and will be greatly missed.”
A BARB Search & Rescue spokesman added: “Dave was a very dedicated, enthusiastic supporter of our charity and HM Coastguard over many years, putting in countless hours of his time on fundraising, attending shouts, training, and visits.”
“He’d always take time to have conversations with fellow volunteers, checking on their welfare, taking a genuine interest in them. He was always so approachable, enthusiastic and positive. Nothing was ever too big an ask. He lived by the words of the song ‘always look on the bright side of life’ which became his motto.”
“Dave, or ‘shipmate’ as he was known to many, was a true ‘legend’, not just in Burnham but around the country because of his Coastguard Association volunteering. He will be hugely missed. RIP, Dave, and thank you. Our sympathies go to his family at this time.”
Rev Sharon Eldergill at St Andrew’s Church adds: “The customary greeting from the wonderful Coastguard Dave, well known and loved throughout Burnham and Highbridge and beyond, was: ‘Reverend Sharon! As I live and breathe! How are you? And how’s that husband of yours?’.”
“And St Andrew’s Church was no exception. Dave could often be found on a Thursday morning during communion service with his dog, Penny (from Heaven), joining in the service, and afterwards staying for coffee and chatting with others in the congregation.”
“Dave had a love of life, a sense of community, a living faith, and a genuine care for others. This care and concern was manifest in many ways, be that providing food and shelter for someone down on their luck, to liaising with support groups for people in trouble, and of course his work with the Coastguard Association and related charities.”
“When we set up Burnham Bereavement Cafe at St Andrew’s Dave, bereaved himself, did the training with us and helped us to open in the early days, providing support, a listening ear, and a warm welcome to those coming along to the Cafe, enabling them to talk about grief in a safe space.”
“When Dave saw a need he would respond to it, and many’s the time I’d had a call from him asking for advice on behalf of someone he was helping. He was a great encourager, a man who lived out his Christian Faith with deeds of great kindness and an overwhelmingly cheerful disposition. A giant of a man, who will be sadly missed by many of us at St Andrew’s.”
Paul Hale at Burnham’s Ritz Club adds: “Dave was a member here for more than five years who often came in with his dog, Penny. He was a popular member who was always very positive and supportive of the club and its activities. He’d often come along to the Ritz Acoustic Club music nights where he’d enjoy the live music with a drink. He was always a very pleasant guy, someone who will be much missed.”