Local leaves legacy to provide new waterproof clothing for Swanage lifeboat crew
Local Swanage man, Andy Weeks, was a long supporter of his local lifeboat station.
He left a legacy to the Swanage Lifeboat Station and it was decided to allocate his generous donation towards the brand new all-weather waterproof lifeboat clothing which is being distributed to stations around the country during the last part of 2018.
Andy was part of a large family, originally from Swanage, and moved to North London with his family when he was aged 6. Despite moving away, Andy maintained contact with his roots by frequent holidays with grandparents during his school years.
On leaving grammar school, Andy trained and worked as an animal technician at a range of establishments including the Royal Veterinary College in South Mimms, the Medical Research Centre, Mill Hill, The Nuffield Institute (attached to Regents Park Zoo) and the Institute of Psychiatry in Denmark Hill, where he served as Senior Animal Technician for many years. The Institute became part of Kings Hospital and ultimately merged into the University of London.
Andy’s post involved a range of responsibilities for animal and staff welfare, as well as liaison with the Home Office on licensing, control and welfare of the animals in his charge. Among other innovations, he introduced and managed a ‘colony’ system for baboons, allowing them freedom to establish their own social hierarchy, rather than live exclusively in individual cages.
His successes within his own field were recognised, and he was much in demand at the Institute of Animal Technicians, both to lecture and to advise on professional training.
In the 1980s Andy decided to move back to Swanage, commuting up to south London on Monday mornings and returning Friday evening. He kept this up until taking early retirement in 2005.
Retirement allowed Andy the time to pursue other interests, including developing his extensive local knowledge, his interest in local pre-history spread into a more general interest in neolithic and bronze age archaeology and social development, both in the UK and in the Celtic fringes of France.
His annual visits to Brittany (in his ‘Del Boy’ Reliant three wheeler) led to him becoming so well informed on the tombs and stone alignments in the area round Carnac that he was sometimes consulted by the local historical community there.
Perhaps by way of cultural exchange, he became highly skilled at Boules, a favourite sport in that area of France. This helps account for his success in running the Boules Championship at Swanage Carnival for 25 years.
Andy had come to know Jim Etherington in the 1980s, and over time the affinity grew from Andy attending Jim’s local performances to acting as informal roadie (that Del Boy Reliant again!), then providing supporting percussion and generally setting up and looking after the kit.
Andy was known to most of the volunteer lifeboat crew through his percussion accompaniment to Jim Etherington and the crew felt very honoured that he chose to support Swanage Lifeboat Station.
Swanage Lifeboat Coxswain, Dave Turnbull said “It is always very special to receive support from a member of our community and I feel that it is fitting tribute to Andy that our new waterproof clothing, that will keep our volunteers warm and safe for years to come, will be funded thanks to his generous donation”. The new lifeboat kit is supplied by Helly Hansen.
As many will remember, Andy was well known for his habit of wearing shorts all year round, and large white shoes (with internal steel toecaps).
Andy’s brother said, “In sorting out his affairs, I was often in Swanage in the weeks and months following his passing. I felt greatly supported then, and now rather proud, at the many expressions of sympathy and regard I received from so many people. I had not realised how supportive and helpful so many people had found him. I always felt he enjoyed his eccentricities, but I now feel they may somehow have made him more approachable to a wide range of people. I know he will be greatly missed, but not just as a ‘local character’.”