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Natural lifeboat leader awarded MBE by Queen

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution volunteer and staff member, Lee Firman has received an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours for his services to the charity.


Lee Firman

Having started volunteering with the charity 21 years ago, Lee, now aged 39, from Chester, has been a volunteer Coxswain and Crew Member at Aldeburgh, he also spent time at Angle and St Ives Lifeboat Stations in his role as Fleet Staff coxswain and is currently working as a Divisional Operations Manager for the RNLI.

Lee, whose father was a distinguished coxswain, has been involved in the RNLI all his life, joining the Aldeburgh crew at 17 years old and then just six years later, at the young age of 23 he became what is likely to be the RNLI’s youngest ever coxswain in its 192 years existence.

Lee is known for his natural ability to lead a crew, which was illustrated when he was a coxswain on several large and challenging rescues including rescuing a crew of four from the yacht Rosebank in appalling weather conditions on 28 May 2000. He can also often be seen giving up his own time to actively engage with all aspects of the RNLI within the community and helping to arrange and attend fundraising events.

Beyond his operational duties Lee’s personable nature and dedication to the volunteers comes across strong providing pastoral care and support to crews and volunteers in times of distress and tragedy and this has led him to be a driving force in championing a national standard of mental wellbeing training.

On receiving the news of his MBE Lee said: “I am immensely honoured and humbled, this isn’t just for me but it recognises the commitment of my family, giving me the time to volunteer and allowing me to be part of the RNLI for so many years.”

He added: “It is also testament to the commitment and support from the thousands of volunteer crews and fundraisers that have helped me achieve what I have and continue to do their bit in helping to save lives at sea.’

Chief Executive for the RNLI Paul Boissier commented on the honour by saying: “I am extremely happy that Lee has been recognised with an MBE. He is a modest and reserved character but has the ability to lead and motivate those around him. This firm but fair leadership has shone through since his promotion to Operations Manager in 2015. He is an individual who does not shy away from difficult decisions but pursues excellence in everything he does and this honour is thoroughly deserved.”

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, Carrybridge 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


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