AS Callum Govus steers the country’s newest lifeboat to Scotland this week, one man will be on his mind.
At just 25 Callum will be the youngest coxswain of the RNLI’s £2.1m Shannon-class fleet and he owes it all to the inspiration of his former crew member and schoolteacher Davie Butcher.
But his happiness will be tempered by the knowledge that Davie passed away from cancer before he could see Callum’s proudest moment when he sails RNLI 13-23, into Girvan harbour at 1.23pm next Sunday.
However, he has ensured Davie’s memory will live on at the Girvan station by having a picture of him in pride of place in the crew room.
And he hopes Davie’s family will be there on Sunday to witness the new boat’s arrival.
Irvine-born Callum has been crazy about the sea since moving to Girvan at the age of 11.
“When I went to Girvan Academy Davie was my PE teacher and he was such a brilliant figure to look up to,” says Callum, who flies down to Poole in Dorset today to sail the boat to its new home.
“Sadly, he took ill and had to leave, but I then saw him a lot down at the harbour.”
The friendship between the pair flourished over the years, with Davie taking Callum under his wing.
“He knew how desperate I was to get my own boat and he found a 12ft punt for me when I was 15 and told me to just pay him back when he could,” Callum adds.
“We really got to know each other well. I’d go fishing with him and he’d smoke the mackerel for us to eat.
“My boat was tied up just below the RNLI station and I always remember him pointing up and saying that one day I could be in charge of it.”
Fired up by what Davie said, Callum joined as a volunteer the day after his 17th birthday.
Callum, sadly, had attended Davie’s funeral just beforehand but when he arrived for his first evening’s training he found Davie had told the crew all about him.
Callum became a rising star of the RNLI, so much so that he was given the honour of becoming the youthful coxswain/mechanic of the new boat.
There’s only one marginally-younger coxswain in charge of any vessel in the RNLI.
The Shannon uses water jets, not propellers, and can reach 25 knots, almost twice the speed of the existing aging Mersey-class boat.
Callum went down to the RNLI’s headquarters last week for the vessel’s sea trials. And Davie was on his mind.
“Straight away I was thinking of Davie, how he kept his boat immaculate and how he trained the crew,” he says.
“They are things I’m looking to introduce for myself.
“Davie was more than just a role model. There is no way I’d have this amazing honour if it wasn’t for him.
“I owe him everything and I’ll definitely be thinking of him when I bring it into harbour, hopefully in front of his family.”