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'Wonderful and well-deserving' RNLI stalwarts included in New Year Honours

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteers, staff and fundraisers for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution are among those recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours announced today.

Jack Lowe

Vivienne Grey, crew member at RNLI Little and Broad Haven

An MBE has been awarded to Vivienne Grey, a volunteer crewmember at Little and Broad Haven RNLI since 1990, who has been involved in more than 120 ‘shouts’ on the lifeboat and is credited directly for saving the lives of eight people.

Vivienne, a school teacher and mother-of-two, who also volunteers with the local Coastguard Rescue Team, said: “This award recognises the hard work of the whole crew and also the support which the village gives the lifeboat. To know that when the pagers go off, we can go to sea and make a difference to someone’s life is why we volunteer.”

Since 2008, Vivienne has also held the voluntary role of Lifeboat Training Coordinator at the Welsh lifeboat station. She coaches and mentors her fellow crew members, ensuring that the high standards of training are maintained.

She is particularly keen to bring on younger members of the team and her interest in encouraging young people is continued through her full-time job teaching in the local primary school.

Martin Jones, a volunteer crewmember at Rhyl Lifeboat Station for over 30 years and full time Coxswain since 2010, has also been awarded an MBE.

Martin has been on more than 700 ‘shouts’ at what is the busiest lifeboat station in North Wales. Alongside his role as Coxswain, Martin also holds the roles of Mechanic, D Class Helm, Assessor Trainer and Training Coordinator.

And if his commitment at the lifeboat station wasn’t enough, Martin also volunteers for the RNLI Flood Rescue Team. He was part of the team deployed to Cumbria during the storms of December 2015, when they assisted 337 people and rescued 74 people in distress.

Talking about receiving the award, Martin said: “After receiving the news that Rhyl RNLI are to be allocated a new Shannon class lifeboat only a few weeks ago, I honestly didn’t think this year could get any better – but to open a letter and read that I’d been awarded an MBE, well, it’s the icing on the cake.”

Volunteer and staff member Lee Firman has also received an MBE for his services to the RNLI. Having started volunteering with the charity 21 years ago, Lee, now aged 39, has been a volunteer Coxswain and crew member at Aldeburgh. Lee, who lives in Chester, has 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 with the charity all his life, joining the Alderburgh crew at 17 years old and then just six years later, he became one of the RNLI's youngest ever coxswains.

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.”

Glyn Ellis, Operations Manager for the RNLI’s Inshore Lifeboat Centre on the Isle of Wight, was awarded an MBE for his services to the charity.

Glyn, 59, who has worked for the RNLI for 20 years, transformed the way it produces and maintains inshore lifeboats.

Glyn said: “It was unbelievable to hear that I would be given an MBE. It had never crossed my mind that I would ever get something like it. It’s actually rather bittersweet as my dad, who was a great fan of the royals, died last year. But I know he’d be hugely proud.”

And Stonehaven RNLI’s veteran fundraiser Karen Smith has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the charity.

Karen, 72, has been involved with Stonehaven RNLI for 39 years and is currently the Vice-President, Secretary and Assistant Box Secretary. She’s also held the positions of President, Vice Chairman, Committee Member, Box Secretary and several other fundraising staff roles over the years.

When she became Box Secretary, Karen’s tenacity led to yearly income for Stonehaven RNLI rising from £5,000 to a consistent £17,000. She was also a key instigator in securing a £25,000 donation from a local company.

Pauline Carson, a volunteer fundraiser from Northern Ireland, was also awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to the RNLI.

RNLI Chief Executive Paul Boissier said: “The RNLI depends on the commitment, skill and courage of its volunteers, staff and fundraisers – and those that have been named in this year’s New Year Honours epitomise those qualities. I’m delighted that these wonderful and well-deserving people have been recognised.”

Notes to Editors:

  • Pictures of all those receiving awards are available
  • The portrait of Martin Jones is by Nigel Millard
  • The black and white portrait of Vivienne Grey is by Jack Lowe

RNLI media contacts

For more information contact the RNLI Press Office. 01202 336789 /

Nigel Millard

Coxswain Martin Jones


Lee Firman


Glyn Ellis, Operations Manager for the RNLI’s Inshore Lifeboat Centre


Fundraiser Karen Smith


Pauline Carson

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.

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

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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