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Bob thought his honours letter was a speeding fine

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: January 01, 2014

LIFESAVING FUNDRAISER:  Robert Bulgin is awarded a British  Empire Medal for his charitable services.

LIFESAVING FUNDRAISER: Robert Bulgin is awarded a British Empire Medal for his charitable services.

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A PORT ISAAC pensioner delayed opening a letter he believed was a speeding fine – only to discovered later that he was a nominee for the New Year Honours List.

Robert Bulgin, known as Bob, chairs the Port Isaac fundraising branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) which has raised £180,000 in only seven years – in a fishing village with little more than 700 residents.

Mr Bulgin, 76, said he was "totally surprised" to learn he was to be awarded the British Empire Medal for his charity work, having had "no idea that this was in the offing".

He has organised countless events – balls, auctions, lotteries and tea parties – to keep the sea rescue charity at the forefront of people's minds, but was not expecting official recognition: "When the letter advising me my name had been put forward arrived three weeks ago I thought it was a speeding fine and put it aside with a few other bills."

He didn't open it until two days later, but when he did it was "a very pleasant surprise" to learn he was to be honoured with the BEM.

Mr Bulgin said the award was recognition for the work of the branch's committee and the lifeboat crew.

"We have a great team at Port Isaac. We have a great crew and a very good committee," he said.

"I consider this award an endorsement of this. Without my excellent team our results would not have been possible."

However, Mr Bulgin's efforts don't stop with organising fundraising. He is also the lifeboat station's volunteer press and publicity officer and gives his time freely to share his passion for the RNLI and encourage young people to become involved with it.

He also provides pastoral care for the lifeboat crew and finds time to support a number of other causes in the community, including the Port Isaac Rowing Club, the Frank McMichael Art Trust and British Divers Marine Life Rescue Southwest.

A former company managing director, he is a Freeman of the City of London and of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames.

Mr Bulgin said with his involvement in scuba diving, traditional sailing and rowing, the marine environment had played a significant part in his life.

Port Isaac's historic connection with the lifeboat had given him the pleasure of forming firm friendships with the crew and a lasting admiration for the high standards achieved by the RNLI.

Others with a Cornish connection to be recognised in the New Year Honours List include:

Order of the British Empire: Member of the British Empire, Mrs Jillian Gwendoline Carr, human resources director, Pendennis Shipyard, Falmouth, for services to education.

Royal Victorian Order: Member of the Victorian Order (MVO), Mrs Gemma Catherine Teresa Kaza, Inventory Controller, household of the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

Royal Victorian Medal: Miss Shona Kay Williams, assistant dresser to the Duchess of Cornwall.

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