Left to right at the presentation: James Perkin (lifeboat operations manager), Nigel Green (second tractor driver), Joan Tanner (fundraising team chair), William Paynter, Martin Mason (admin officer), Mike Hicks, (lifeboat chairman), Robin Langford (second coxswain/mechanic), and Simon Ashmore (deputy launching authority). Photograph: Simon Ashmore/RNLI

St Ives RNLI volunteer William Paynter has been presented with his vellum, having served as shore crew at St Ives Lifeboat station for 47 years.

Shore crew provide a vital link in the chain, by launching and recovering the lifeboat, and making sure it is ready for the next call.

Since joining the shore crew in 1972, William has been involved in hundreds of service launches, and during his service at St Ives the lifeboat rescued 411 lives at sea.

William was presented with his vellum by lifeboat operations manager, James Perkin. Despite having reached retirement age from the shore crew, William is continuing to work as a volunteer as part of the fundraising team.

He puts his encyclopaedic knowledge of the station, its equipment, and personalities, past and present, to good use while collecting from members of the public during exercise launches and as such is an important link between the station and the town it serves.

‘Volunteers like William are the backbone of the station’

As part of the station’s commitment to meet its environmental obligations, William is also managing the recycling programme.

As well as his vellum, William was presented with a picture of the St Ives all-weather lifeboat, The Nora Stachura, a gift signed by the volunteer crew.

James Perkin said: “Volunteers like William are the backbone of the station, and in turning out at all times of the day and night to help our lifeboats and their crews to safely launch and recover, he has been an invaluable part of our work saving lives at sea.

“We are really pleased that he has been able to continue to volunteer as part of our fundraising team as, after so many years working for the station, we would be very sorry to lose him.”