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Bembridge RNLI Coxswain retires after 15 years on a high

Lifeboats News Release

With less than six hours before Steve Simmonds retires after 15 years as Coxswain of Bembridge Lifeboat, 'RNLB Alfred Albert Williams' (Tamar All-Weather Lifeboat 16-17) was tasked (at 6.20pm) by UK Coastguard to look for two Jet Skis thought to be somewhere between Bembridge and Hayling Island.

RNLB Alfred Albert Williams at sunset with Portsmouth behind her

RNLI/Mike Samuelson

RNLB Alfred Albert Williams returning to Bembridge

Apparently one had run out of fuel and was under tow by the other. A third Jet Ski had, in the meantime gone off to try to get hold of some fuel and had last been seen in Wootton Creek.

Whilst the Alfred Albert Williams was heading to the most likely area to start the search, she came across a small speedboat with two crew that had also run out of fuel. The Alfred Albert Williams stood by and through HM Coastguard arranged for Portsmouth RNLI's Atlantic 85 that was in transit at the time from Portsmouth to her boathouse in Langstone Harbour, to tow the speedboat to safety.

On resuming her search for the missing jet skis, the Alfred Albert Williams went to the assistance of a 34ft yacht with four crew on board that had reported a problem with their engine (thought to be a small fire); as there was no wind, it was decided to tow her to Portsmouth. Having safely berthed the yacht in Haslar Marina, the Alfred Albert Williams returned to Bembridge and was rehoused by 9.15pm. In the meantime, the three Jet Skis were subsequently located by Portsmouth's Atlantic 85 safe on Hayling Beach.

Before heading home, Steve Simmonds said: 'Well, that was an interesting three hours to finish on! I will of course miss being the Coxswain but I know that I leave Bembridge RNLI is very safe hands and wish my successor Guy all the very best. I know he will uphold the traditions of the RNLI, after all I helped train him for the job!'

RNLI media contacts

· Mike Samuelson, Bembridge RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07785 593254 or

· Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07785 296252

· For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

Steve Simmonds & James Pink watching the recovery

RNLI/Mike Samuelson

Coxswain Steve Simmonds with Deputy Coxswain James Pink
Steve Simmonds helping wash the Alfred Albert Williams down

RNLI/Mike Samuelson

The last wash down
Steve Simmonds with Guy Willing, the new Coxswain

RNLI/Mike Samuelson

Retirement beckons

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland