Devoted volunteer Coxswain Ray Chapman MBE retires after 46 years of service to the RNLI.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Author: Adam Holmes

Devoted volunteer Coxswain Ray Chapman MBE retires after 46 years of service to the RNLI.

The Coxswain of Skegness lifeboat has retired from the station after a remarkable 46 years of dedication to the Institution (Royal National Lifeboat Institution, RNLI)

 Ray took the wheel of the Mersey class lifeboat Lincolnshire Poacher for the final time, fittingly on her last voyage from the station as she was retired to the relief fleet on 9 March 2017 having spent 47 years volunteering for the charity. His final day in service was Sunday 12 March 2017.

 Ray joined the crew as inshore lifeboat (ILB) crew and shore helper in 1971, just 16 years old, the youngest allowable age for crew.

 Following in the footsteps of his father, Ron Chapman (late second Coxswain and station Chairman) Ray was involved in the RNLI from an early age. One of his earliest memories of life in the RNLI was the naming ceremony for the Oakley class lifeboat Charles Fred Grantham, back in 1964.

Actively involved in the RNLI before he officially joined in 1971, Ray remembers running from house to house to alert crew, before pagers were introduced to the service.

"When Dad got the phone call that the IRB (inshore rescue boat, as the smaller lifeboat was originally known) I would run round to several of the volunteers crews houses to alert them, one crewman who was a postman would launch his mail bag into someone’s garden and the leg it at the sound of the maroons”.

 From this early involvement Ray was to raise quickly to other positions within the station, joining the crew of the all-weather lifeboat in 1975 and Senior Helmsman of the ILB in 1984.

 In 1990 Ray was appointed Assistant 2nd Coxswain, raising to 2nd Coxswain in 1999 and Station Coxswain in 2013 until his retirement.

 Ray is rightly immensely proud of his time in the RNLI, although typically unassuming and modest, he has ever insisted "The best thing about lifeboating is the camaraderie, teamwork and the lifelong friendships that you make, saving lives is a bonus”

 Ray was recognised for his services to Maritime Safety in HRH the Queens New Years Honours in 2015 where he was awarded MBE for his services.

 RNLI Operation Director, George Rawlinson said "Ray has dedicated 46 years of his life to the RNLI, demonstrating time and time again the selflessness, skill and courage which form the bedrock of our charity’s lifesaving ethos.

 Lifeboating is in Ray’s blood. He is one of the UK’s longest-serving and most experienced volunteer lifeboat crew members and I know he will be greatly missed by the crew and wider RNLI community at Skegness, where his passion and commitment to the RNLI have been an inspiration”

 He added "His knowledge of the local coast and boat handling skills are exemplary, but as well as helping to save many lives during lifeboat launches, Ray has helped hundreds if not thousands more through the sea safety talks he has given and the enthusiasm he has shown for fundraising”.

 On his MBE George said "I was delighted when Ray received an MBE last year and can’t think of anyone more deserving of that honour. He has been such a stalwart volunteer and a wonderful ambassador for our charity. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, I want to thank him for his amazing commitment to saving lives, and wish him all the very best for his retirement”.

 Ray has handed over the reins of Coxswain Richard Watson, station 2nd Coxswain until his new position.

 Ray finished by saying "I have a lot of people to thank for passing on their knowledge to let me do what I have done, and I hope that I have passed that on as well.



1)    Ray Chapman MBE

2)    Ray with MBE at Buckingham Palace

Devoted volunteer Coxswain Ray Chapman MBE retires after 46 years of service to the RNLI.

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