Padstow: Bravery Awards For Lifeboat Crew

The RNLI is to recognise the Padstow lifeboat crew for their part in saving the life of a French trawlerman during a six-hour rescue in gale force winds and rough seas last year.

Second Coxswain Richard Pitman is to receive the RNLI's Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum. 

Mechanic Michael England, lifeboat crew members Alan Hoskin, Oliver Vivian, Stephen Swabey, James Swabey and Luke Chown will receive letters of thanks from the RNLI Chief Executive.

The dramatic rescue took place on 1 February 2014 when a French trawler was damaged in rough seas off Trevose Head, Cornwall. 

The boat's wheelhouse windows were shattered in the stormy conditions, causing the fishing boat to lose all power. 

At 4.08pm, the Padstow lifeboat launched into gale force winds and 10 metre seas with Second Coxswain Richard Pitman in command. 

The crew reached the scene nearly an hour later and found the fishing boat rolling heavily and drifting quickly towards the shore. 

 

 

The rough seas meant transferring crew to the lifeboat would be dangerous, so the lifeboat secured a tow on the first attempt, despite the difficult conditions. 

Two hours later, with the lifeboat and trawler making slow but steady progress, the towline parted. 

It would take too long and be too dangerous to re-establish the tow before both the trawler and lifeboat were pushed very close to the shore. 

A rescue helicopter was now also on scene and the only option was for the trawler crew - already in survival suits - to jump from the boat and be winched into the helicopter. 

With enormous skill, the helicopter pilot and winchman recovered five of the six fishermen. 

But the trawler's skipper the last to leave the boat - was swept away from the winchman and, with the fishing boat pitching beneath the helicopter, the pilot was forced to fly clear. 

It was now up to the lifeboat crew to rescue the man in the water. 

In the rough and difficult conditions and with only a spotlight to guide him, Second Coxswain Pitman carefully manoeuvred the lifeboat alongside the trawler skipper and the volunteer crew pulled him on board. Unharmed apart from a minor scratch, the skipper was taken back to Padstow where he was reunited with his crew at RNAS Culdrose.

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