The Coxswain/Mechanic of Skegness lifeboat has retired from the station after 28 years of service with the RNLI
John Irving took the all-weather lifeboat Lincolnshire Poacher to sea for the final time on Sunday morning having spent the last 13 years working for the charity, ensuring the lifeboat was ready to go to sea at any time of day and in any conditions.
John joined the station as a shore helper in February 1985, before becoming a volunteer crew member on both the town’s inshore and all-weather lifeboats.
He served on the Charles Fred Grantham before the arrival of the Lincolnshire Poacher, and his promotion to Second Coxswain, in 1990.
In December 1999 John took the position of Coxswain/Mechanic following the retirement of Paul Martin and has earned several commendations for his leadership, boat handling and seamanship over the years.
Most recently, in December 2011, John received a letter of thanks from the RNLI’s Operations Director for saving the lives of three people aboard the MV Sarah during, “a long and arduous service in very cold conditions”.
John said he will miss the station and the camaraderie among the crew, but not being called out of bed during the cold mornings.
He said: “I will miss the adrenaline rush when the pager goes off and the sense of pride that comes after a shout.
“It’s a great team at Skegness, I will miss them all, but I know they will continue in the best traditions of the RNLI.”
The role of Coxswain has now been handed over to Ray Chapman – the RNLI’s longest-serving volunteer with 42 years’ service at Skegness lifeboat station.
Following John’s final launch, Ray paid tribute to his tireless work raising and maintaining extremely high standards among the lifeboat crew members at Skegness.
Ray said, ‘Taking over from John is going to be very difficult.
“He has raised the standards of training and professionalism among the crew to such a high level.
“On behalf of everyone at the station, I’d like to thank John for his hard work and dedication to Skegness lifeboat and the RNLI for the best part of three decades.’
The full-time position of Mechanic has been filled by Mark Holley who, after 15 years as a volunteer, takes over the day-to-day running of the station and maintenance of the lifeboats.
Despite his departure from the Skegness lifeboat, John is not retiring from lifeboating or the RNLI just yet. Later this week he takes up the position of Second Coxswain at Humber lifeboat station.