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RNLI dismissals over 'prank' will 'put lives at risk' 

Two jet-skiers have credited the 'heroes' with saving their lives in 2012.

Two jet-skiers who were rescued by the Arbroath lifeboat say the decision to permanently stand down two volunteers over a "drunken prank" will put lives at risk.

Ben Thomson and Gavin Smith were rescued by the all-weather lifeboat after they became stranded in freezing water in 2012.

After the rescue the pair credited the crew of "heroes" with saving their lives.

They said: "Without these guys we wouldn't be here today with a shadow of a doubt.

"These guys are heroes, if it wasn't for the local knowledge they have we would never have been found."

Five years later, the man who led that rescue mission has been permanently stood down by the RNLI along with a second volunteer.

Tommy Yule, a long-serving coxswain, and his colleague were dismissed by the RNLI following an "incident of misconduct" leaving the lifeboat out of service until an investigation is concluded.

Mr Yule, maintains he "played no part" in the alleged prank.

Mr Thomson and Mr Smith, who were inspired by Mr Yule to join the RNLI, still say they have him to think for being alive.

"Our kids have got dads, our wives have got husbands, our families have still got kids because that guy came out on a Sunday afternoon with his crew, left his family in the house and came out to save us," Mr Thomson said.

Mr Smith claims they are just two out of many people who have Mr Yule to thank.

He said: "It wasn't only our lives Tommy saved, he has saved hundreds of lives over the past 27 years and unfortunately now due to what's happened those lives are now at risk at sea without the experienced coxswain and the knowledge that he has."

'It wasn't only our lives Tommy saved, he has saved hundreds of lives over the past 27 years.'
Gavin Smith

The dismissal follows what the organisation's branded a "serious incident of misconduct" at the lifeboat station but has described as simply a "prank" by a source.

In a statement, Mr Yule said: "On the night in question I was not on duty and had no part to play in the events that took place.

"I have given almost 30 years of dedicated voluntary service to the RNLI saving a number of lives through skill, experience and knowledge of the sea and local area.

"To think that I can no longer provide this service to my local community leaves me absolutely devastated."

A third volunteer has resigned in light of recent events and an investigation by the RNLI is ongoing.

Until that is concluded, the town's all-weather lifeboat will remain out of service.

In a statement, an RNLI spokesman said the organisation will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour.

He said: "The RNLI is 100% committed to saving lives at sea and would never consider taking a lifeboat off service unless there was due cause and reason.

"Our dedicated volunteers represent the values and principles of our organisation. We shall not tolerate any behaviour that brings the work of the RNLI and our people into disrepute."

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