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Lifesaver looks back on a half century of dramatic coastal rescues

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: December 08, 2012

By rob goodman

  • Roger Button (bottom right) with members of the Rhossili Cliff Rescue Team Steve Campbell-Kelly Trude Knowland Darren Powell in 2010

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MOST people would not be brave enough to do the job for one wet and windy night, let alone 46 years of them.

But Rhossili Coastguard Rescue Team member Roger Button spent nearly half a century keeping people safe on the rugged Gower coastline — and the seas off it — before his retirement earlier this year.

The 66-year-old, who runs the Pitton Cross Caravan Park at the beauty spot, has a wealth of memories from his time with the team.

"I enrolled when I was 20 in 1966," he said.

"In my time with the Coastguard, there has been a terrific amount of change.

"In the early days you were required for manpower. Then as it developed into a full search and rescue unit, decision making became more important.

"I would call it thinking in real time. There was one incident where a lady had fallen on Gower and the information we had didn't tally the way it should have.

"We had to find out where the call had come from. We had two helicopters in the air. Controlling a situation like that and finding her is about decision making.

"Another incident was from about two or three years ago, around this time of year, and a lady had got lost in a terrible storm on Rhossili Down.

"We set off, it was a couple of recruits' first incident.

"The weather was so bad you couldn't stand up as the wind was so strong. There was a helicopter 100 metres above us and you couldn't see or hear it. "We glimpsed a tiny flash of a light and found her.

"She was using her phone to flash a light in the hope someone would see it."

To mark his remarkable dedication Mr Button, who also spent 12 years as deputy station officer, was presented with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee medal at the annual Gower Coastguard Sector Christmas party at the Llanrhidian Holiday Park.

"I have also been given the Coastguard Long Service Medal which I have been awarded for 20, 30 and 40 years service," he added.

"I retired in May and my wife of 42 years, Eira doesn't mind.

"It could have be very disruptive, you could be sitting down for a meal and the pager goes, the nice warm meal has to wait."

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