A dedicated Cumbrae Coastguard hero has been congratulated on his retirement after over 25 years of service to the community.

Former Ritz Cafe owner Luigi Giorgetti has been praised for his endeavours - and has described it as an "honour and privilege" to have served Millport for such a long spell after turning his pager off for the last time yesterday.

Luigi said: "It was very emotional to finally leave and it was great to receive the recognition.

"My boss organised a special presentation and I didn't realise it was happening.

"I have seen a lot of changes from when I started in 1998 and they have all been for the better."

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Luigi congratulated by Assistant Chief Coastguard Pat O'CallaghanLuigi congratulated by Assistant Chief Coastguard Pat O'Callaghan (Image: Cumbrae Coastguard)

Luigi said that the job was 24/7 and 365 days a year and there had a number of career highlights, from helping to land Princess Anne by helicopter at West Bay, to carrying out patrols on the Clyde during the high profile Cop26 summit.

He said: "We work closely in conjunction with the lifeboat, and we also work closely with the Belfast Coastguard Co-ordination Centre.

"It sometimes requires Largs Lifeboat, Troon Lifeboat and we may even need to task the coastguard helicopter on occasions - the tools we now have at our disposal for search and rescue are immense."

Another big incident over the years included the drill ship losing its moorings at Hunterston jetty. Luigi described it as an "intense" evening for the Coastguard in general, which involved heads of service.

Luigi, aged 67, is a local grandfather, and married to Angela.

Largs and Millport Weekly News: Luigi and Angela at special presentationLuigi and Angela at special presentation (Image: Cumbrae Coastguard)

Both are well known and used to run the popular Ritz Cafe on the island for many years, and Angela now runs Angela's Nails Beauty and Health Spa, while in recent years Luigi worked for CalMac.

Luigi said: "In my role, every second counts, and when somebody in their hour of need needs us - we are here to help.

"We had an incident on Wee Cumbrae a few years ago with two divers who had lost their mobile phones and were marooned. We received a phone call from the public to say that there were flashing lights coming from Wee Cumbrae so I headed out to investigate.

"I remember spotting them looking out with my binoculars from Millport Pier and managed to flash them back to let them know that I had spotted them, and Belfast Coastguard tasked Largs Lifeboat to go and pick them up.

"I remember it was a bitterly cold day and they had taken shelter inside the lower part of the big house where they managed to find some tins of food to eat.

"We managed to find their dive boat on the west side of the island."

Over the years Luigi has been involved in many call outs - and says the most pleasing thing has been the thank yous that he and his colleagues in the coastguard and other agenices have received for their sterling work.

He said: "Messages of thanks from people are always special and emotional too - somebody saying 'Thank you for saving my dad's life' - these are words you don't forget - they are very deep.

"I particularly enjoyed working during Cop26 given it was such a monumental event to happen in Scotland - and one of my roles was helping to patrol the River Clyde

"It was an amazing experience given all the logistics involve and an incredible experience."

A spokesperson for Cumbrae Coastguard said: "As a volunteer member of the Coastguard Rescue Service, Luigi’s commitment and dedication speaks to the passion with which he has served the community of Cumbrae and beyond, and his dedication to assisting those in distress on the UK's coastline.

"His service includes innumerable highlights covering all kinds of situations where his skills and expertise have proven to be sincerely in keeping with the motto of HM Coastguard; to search, to rescue, to save.

"Today’s occasion was marked by a visit to Cumbrae from various colleagues from Area 4 and beyond to officially stand-down Cumbrae Alpha, complete with a heartfelt message broadcast directly from our Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Belfast.

"While Luigi’s presence in the team will be sadly missed, the exemplary manner in which he has helped nurture and develop fellow Coastguard Rescue Officers means that the Cumbrae team is perfectly placed to continue to benefit from his experience.

"As he signs off for the final time, Luigi’s colleagues and friends from HM Coastguard and the community on Cumbrae wish him a long and happy retirement – Bravo Zulu sir."