Plymouth RNLI say farewell to a well loved Coxswain
Plymouth RNLI volunteers are mourning the loss of John Dare a previous long serving Coxswain who passed away recently
This week marks an extremely sad time in the history of Plymouth RNLI Lifeboat Station following the passing away of John Dare a previous long serving Coxswain. John was extremely well known, well liked and well respected throughout the RNLI.
The following tribute has been written by Patrick Marshall who succeeded John as Coxswain and served aboard three different classes of lifeboat over a 37 year period with him.
John’s long commitment to the lifeboat service started in 1959 aged 26 when he sailed with Walter Crowther who was the Plymouth Coxswain for many years. His skill as a dinghy sailor was renowned throughout the southwest and it was a natural progression that he join the crew.
John was Second Coxswain for only a short time before the then Coxswain, Peter White, moved to New Zealand and John became Coxswain. Whilst service calls for the lifeboat were fewer in those days the skill needed to carry out services with conventional lifeboats that were slow and unwieldly was a challenge to which John, who then was one of the youngest coxswains in the RNLI, amply rose to.
On January 16th 1974 under John’s command the Thomas Forehead & Mary Rowse launched to the coaster Merc Enterprise which had capsized in hurricane force winds and phenomenal seas 26 miles South West of Rame Head. Despite being advised to return to station due to the extreme weather conditions John continued until the upturned hull was sighted and he was assured that all hands were accounted for. For his courage determination and seamanship he was awarded the institutions Bronze Medal for this service.
Another notable service was carried out by the lifeboat under John’s command in 1985 when the crew of the French Trawler Saint Simeon were rescuced in a severe gale and very rough seas. John was subsequently awarded the Thanks of the Institution inscibed on Vellum.
When John joined there were of course no pagers and the crew were summoned by the firing of two maroons. The drive from his home in Durnford Street to the boathouse has been described many times by crew who he picked up along the way as the most scary part of any shout.
The introduction of fast inshore lifeboats brought John more challenges both at sea and ashore managing the larger crew needed. Several trial lifeboats were sent to Plymouth and John’s opinion of the capbilites of these lifeboats and the improvements he suggested were much valued at the time by the Institution. This was indicative of the high regard in which he was held.
One of his happiest days was when he steamed the new fast 44 foot Waveney class lifeboat into Plymouth. He truly loved that lifeboat which had the power and responsiveness to enhance and compliment John’s seamanship and skill.
John also played a fundamental role in the transition from the old RNLI world which was slow lifeboats, no VHF or radar just a compass, chart and local knowledge into what the institution is today. He always did it with a smile, wise and encouraging words whilst demonstrating consumate natural skill and seamanship throughout.
Despite no longer being with us, John’s legacy will live on at Plymouth Lifeboat Station. Indeed he saw the future potential of the current Coxswain Dave Milford and wisely recruited him nearly thirty years ago. He also taught current Second Coxswain Sean Marshall a great deal from an early age.
Thank you Coxswain for everything you did and the time you gave, from everybody past and present at Plymouth Lifeboat Station.
John’s Funeral will be held at 2.45pm on Monday 5th November at Weston Mill crematorium.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.