Cheshire’s Rodney Cottrell awarded British Empire Medal

Rodney Cottrell

Rodney Cottrell - Credit: Archant

Sailing enthusiast Rodney Cottrell is the proud recipient of a British Empire Medal for his services to charity and the RNLI.

It was a fitting way for Crewe's Rodney Cottrell to end the year. Just six weeks before his 82nd birthday he was awarded the prestigious British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours list. The reason? His decades of local charity work and dedication to the RNLI.

Rodney has supported the RNLI for more than 50 years but in 2007, when he picked up the phone to a Lifeboat area manager, who was seeking a chairman for the Crewe, Nantwich and South Cheshire branch, things changed.

'I have been there ever since,' says Rodney. 'The branch covers a good third of the county in miles, but not in people - and from a fundraising point of view, people are more important than miles.'

The branch was raising about £2,000 a year before he took over as chairman, but on Rodney's watch, annual donations have rocketed to more than £20,000 and the team has donated £36,000 to a number of local appeals to help buy bigger and better boats. Rodney organises several events, the biggest being the Audlem Overwater RNLI Festival. There's the Cycle Sportive, a 100km loop to and from Sandbach, too.

Eight years ago he helped launch a continual event from Easter to the end of October, which has since seen 40,000 passengers rowed from Overwater Marina into Audlem. The charity is special to Rodney, who took up sailing with his wife Christine almost 60 years ago, with a racing dinghy at Winsford. 'Over the years we have sailed nearly twice around the world in miles,' he says. The couple finished offshore sailing five years ago and became volunteers for Overwater Wheelyboat, helping raise funds for the new Overwater Wheelybus, providing travel to disabled and special needs children and adults.

'We raised the money with a group of village people,' he says. 'I think that, along with RNLI, is why I got the BEM. It is satisfying when you have taken ten old ladies along the canal for an hour and a half and they say it's the first time they've been out for a long time and feel like they've been on holiday.' u

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