Coxswain honoured for 40 years’ service

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A LONG-SERVING guardian of lives at sea has been honoured with a prestigious award by Skegness Town Council.

Royal National Lifeboat Institution coxswain Ray Chapman, 56, was awarded with a silver Jolly Fisherman statuette in recognition of his 40 years of service by Mayor of Skegness Coun Sue Binch (both pictured).

The surprise presentation occurred during the naming ceremony for the station’s new lifeboat, the Peterborough Beer Festival IV.

Following the award he said: “This was a complete surprise and a great honour for me to be recognised by the town like this.

“It doesn’t seem like 40 years - it’s been a huge pleasure to be involved with the lifeboats and to work with so many other dedicated volunteers.”

Ray is the RNLI’s second longest-serving crew member among the charity’s thousands of volunteers, having joined on his 16th birthday in March 1971.

In his time he has seen many changes at the Skegness Lifeboat Station and has attended countless call-outs.

However his fondest memories come not from the dramatic emergencies but the every-day satisfaction of the little rescues.

“It’s not always about the big, long, rough shouts, it’s more about seeing the finished product like when you take a kiddy off an air bed at sea and take them back safely to their parents,” he said.

Although the majority of those he has rescued have expressed their gratitude, not everyone has been quite so appreciative.

After rescuing two children on an air bed, their mother tired to charge him £30 for the cost of the inflatable that was lost in the rescue operation.

However for Ray and his volunteer crew the satisfaction of knowing they have saved a life is sufficient reward for their work