RNLI honours volunteer crewman who has served fifty years of saving lives at sea

Lifeboats News Release

Sixty-eight-year-old, Phil Eaglen, has been a volunteer on the Wells Lifeboat crew for more than fifty years.


Left to right: Angel, Darren and Phil Eaglen who all volunteer on the lifeboat crew at Wells.
Phil joined the lifeboat station in July 1967 after being persuaded by his then boss, Sam Abel, who owned a shop and chandlers.

Phil said, 'When the maroons went off, which was the signal for a launch back then, I ran all the way down to the boathouse from the town and volunteered there and then.'

Phil didn’t get on the shout as he hadn’t been trained but it was the start of a volunteering career spanning more than fifty years.

Being on the crew now runs in the family; both his son Darren and granddaughter Angel are on the crew.

Phil, the emergency mechanic on the crew, says, 'It probably wouldn’t be possible to be a volunteer for this length of time these days, as you’re supposed to retire now at sixty-five and you can’t join ‘til you’re seventeen at the earliest.'

In fact, Phil should have retired already but he keeps having his retirement delayed because of crew circumstances on the station. The most recent was the retirement of coxswain/mechanic, Allen Frary. Before that it was when Allen broke his leg, then again while Nicky King was being trained up as the new coxswain/mechanic.

This July, Phil will be presented with a 50-year service badge by RNLI’s chief executive, Mark Dowie at the 150th Anniversary of the RNLI in Wells.

Phil was also invited to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace where he met the Duke of Kent and his granddaughter, Angel accompanied him. He said, 'It was a great occasion, even though it rained, it didn’t spoil things and it was so well organised, there were seven thousand people there. It was amazing.'

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Chris Hardy, said, 'It’s right Phil should be honoured. He is the backbone of the crew and can always be called on when there’s an emergency. It’s amazing to think he’s been on the crew for a third of the time there’s been a RNLI Station in Wells.'

Also honoured at the 150th Anniversary Celebrations will be Fred Whittaker who will be presented with his 40 Year Service badge and Martin Emerson who will be presented with a 20 Year Service badge.

Media Contact:

John Mitchell, Wells-next-the-Sea Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer

Tel: 01328 710882 Mob: 07831 103166 Email: [email protected]


Phil Eaglen (far right) with his son Darren (centre) and his granddaughter Angel (far-left). All three volunteer at the Wells Lifeboat Station.

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 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.

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