Published: 12:23, 15 August 2018
An RNLI supporter at Ramsgate lifeboat station has stepped down after 64 years of service.
Elsie Miller attended her final RNLI management meeting this week as honorary secretary.
The 82-year-old's commitment to the Ramsgate branch has seen her husband John drive her the 74-mile round trip from Ashford for every meeting since 1986.
Elsie's links with the RNLI date back to 1851, when Stephen Penny - a relative of Elsie's father Douglas Kirkaldie - became second coxswain when the lifeboat Northumberland first arrived, and went on to serve in Ramsfare for 55 years.
In 1910, Elsie's father joined the lifeboat crew after he impressed then coxswain William Cooper when being taken out on a job as the boat was short crewed.
He was then appointed coxswain in 1946 and again on August 20, 1952.
Elsie's own involvement with the charity started at an extremely young age.
"When I was six months old, Ramsgate lifeboat took part in the Water Gala in Ramsgate Harbour," she said.
"My father Douglas Kirkaldie was second coxswain at the time and one of the crew, 'Moggy' Catt, dressed in one of my mother's dresses and head scarf.
"Carrying a doll the same size as me, he was 'rescued' from a boat on fire.
"When the lifeboat came alongside the Dover Steps he switched places with my mother, Rene Kirkaldie, who was hiding under the engine room canopy.
"She emerged carrying me and the cheers changed to mutterings. One of the audience shouted, 'You wicked woman! Fancy putting that baby’s life in danger'.
"At this point Howard Knight, the coxswain, said 'Moggy, get out here quick with that doll'. Moggy came from under the canopy with the doll and the audience realised there had been a switch. The cheering resumed and all ended well."
In September 1954 the Ramsgate ladies' lifeboat guild was formed and Elsie's mother, a founder member, enrolled her.
After marrying in 1956 and having children in 1957 and 1960, Elsie took on the role of honorary secretary in 1962.
She said: "I carried on until 1971 when my full time work made it difficult.
"I continued to help in the background where possible.
"During my time with the ladies' guild I introduced souvenirs and the sales of these grew over the years.
"Our first kiosk was opposite the ladies' toilet in the Pier Yard.
"In September 1985 I was asked to become chairman but had to stand down in 1986 when we moved to Ashford.
"I was invited to join Ramsgate station committee in 1985 and was able to continue this as the meetings were in the evenings, becoming minutes secretary from 1986 until August this year.
"I have had to stand down as minutes secretary due to health reasons, but I will continue on the committee as a supporting member."
For her work, Elsie was presented with the RNLI silver badge in 2003 and the RNLI gold badge in 2014.