THE man in charge of Hartlepool RNLI is sailing into the sunset to enjoy his retirement after 20-years at the helm.

Operations manager Mike Craddy, who is also the former Tees Sailing Club Commodore, is heading to the Norfolk Broads after spending two decades helping keep people safe.

The 66-year-old said: "It’s been a pleasure working with such a dedicated bunch of volunteers.

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"Watching the boats going to sea on shouts and seeing them returning safely with casualties has been extremely rewarding over the years. It’s a great feeling knowing that you have played a small part in saving a person’s life or simply being able to send a lifeboat out to tow a casualty back."

When asked about the highlights of his time with the RNLI, he said: "Winning the ‘Pride of Britain’ award a few years ago was obviously special but every time the pager went off was always special as you knew we were needed to help someone in trouble."

Hartlepool RNLI Coxswain Robbie Maiden, who recently received his 30 year RNLI service award, said: "He was always the last to leave the station after a shout having made sure everyone was okay and the boats made ready for the next service."

The role has now passed over to deputy launch authority at the station Chris Hornsey who said: "Mike is a hard act to follow, he has and always will have a lot of respect from myself and the volunteers here."