Cobham tugboat captain receives surprise gift

PUBLISHED: 12:37 20 October 2010

River pilots reunion

Dick Collings getting presented with award by other river pilots

River pilots reunion Dick Collings getting presented with award by other river pilots


Past and present tugboat workers united to reward the efforts of a former captain who has organised gatherings for more than 30 years.

More than 100 tuggies chipped in to present Dick Collins, 83, with a bottle of top quality brandy and two glasses, while his wife Eileen was given a bouquet of flowers at the latest annual reunion on Tuesday.

“That was one hell of a surprise, said Mr Collins, who began life on the river in 1941 as a cabin boy, before working his way up to becoming master.

“I’d like to say thanks to them all and for no-one to call on me at Christmas — I shall be drunk,” he joked.

The event was held in Cobham Bowls Club, as Mr Collins is a member, and every year attracts more than 100 tugboat workers.

Mr Collins received his present from three former skippers, Bert Chapman, Geoffrey Smith and Ted Stevens.

Mr Chapman, who inherited Mr Collins’ tugboat The Sun 27, when he retired in the 1970s, said: “He has been organising these reunions for so many years and it really was about showing our gratitude. Each year we lose a few but this event still attracts more than 100 people and it is great to get together with old colleagues.”

Asked if he intended to pass the responsibility on, Mr Collins, who lives at Lawrence Drive, Cobham, replied, “I’ll do it until health fails me,”

“Just today a guy came up to me who I didn’t know from Adam and said he sailed with me when I was working the kitchens. That is what this is all about.”

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