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Memory of Holocaust survivor's wife to live on with new Larne lifeboat lifeboat

By Valerie Edwards

Published 16/09/2015

Larne RNLI’s new lifeboat will be named after ‘Terry’ Pistol
Larne RNLI’s new lifeboat will be named after ‘Terry’ Pistol
Fred and Theresa Pistol
Fred and Theresa Pistol on their wedding day

The memory of a Holocaust survivor's wife will live on through a new Larne RNLI lifeboat that will be named after her.

The Pistol Benefit Fund, set up in memory of Frederick (Fred) and Theresa (Terry) Pistol, has funded the new Larne RNLI D-class lifeboat. The vessel is to be named Terry in memory of Fred's beloved wife Theresa at an official naming ceremony on Saturday at the East Antrim Boat Club.

Fred came to the UK as a 19-year-old refugee fleeing the Holocaust in Austria. He worked as a fitter until the Second World War started. After joining the Army and becoming a Major, he returned to England and married Theresa.

Terry was a pianist born in Westcliff-on-Sea who encouraged Fred to go to boating school.

Every boat Fred bought was named after Terry, and the Larne RNLI D-class lifeboat will also bear the name.

The couple's son Neil will attend the naming ceremony with his wife Viveca and two of their three children, Benjamin and Joshua.

Neil said: "We are very impressed with RNLI. They never stop to ask questions about race, sex, or situation; they save lives.

"My mother made my father go to boating school. After we went out (sailing), I told her about all the pickles we got into, and then we all had to go to boating school in 1968, me my mother and father, otherwise there was no point in going out. It was dangerous."

Other close friends will also travel to Larne for the occasion. In a happy coincidence, the naming ceremony is being held on the date of Fred's birthday.

Neil said: "We can't realise the conditions of 1938. Every generation has its survivors. My father lied, cheated and did what he had to do to escape the Holocaust and came to England as an illegal immigrant. Immigrants, illegal or not, give something back to the community."

The D-class lifeboat has been the workhorse of the RNLI for 50 years. The inflatable craft is often used to work close to cliffs, among rocks, and in caves. It can also be righted by the crew if it overturns.

It has a maximum speed of 25 knots and can carry three crew members and five survivors. The lifeboat is equipped with a hand-held VHF radio, night vision, first-aid and oxygen. Allan Dorman, Larne RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: "We are grateful to the Pistol Benefit Fund for the generous gift which has funded our new lifeboat and we look forward to welcoming Neil and his family, along with friends of the Pistols, to Larne.

"We in Larne RNLI will remember Frederick and Theresa through the work of the lifeboat and the volunteer crew and we will be the proud custodians of it for many years to come."

Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 their lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95 per cent of the charity.

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