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Selsey coxswain retires after 47 years with the RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Martin Rudwick retired from the RNLI on Tuesday 21 April the day before his 65th birthday. Martin joined the RNLI Selsey lifeboat crew as a volunteer in June 1973 when he was working as crew on a local fishing boat.

RNLI/Nathan William

Martin in RNLI kit

In 1978 he was awarded a vellum certificate when he was crew during the service call to the trawler New Venture. And in 1983 he was awarded a medal service certificate as crew on the service call to the 33ft yacht Enchantress of Hamble. In the early 80s Martin became a skipper of a local fishing boat and in 1991 decided to buy his own boat the KSL.

Martin fished the grounds off Selsey even getting assistance from the lifeboat on three occasions. In 1996 Martin was appointed as 2nd Coxswain a position which still allowed him to continue fishing. Then in February 1998 at the age of 43 Martin was appointed as Coxswain taking over from Mike Grant who was retiring. This was a full time appointment so KSL was sold and the only fish caught were bass of the end of the old lifeboat slipway.

During his time as coxswain Martin has had some notable calls, on the 15th November 2000 he deliberately put the lifeboat aground in order to rescue the two crew off the yacht Penguino. The 36ft yacht Shropshire Lady which was 28 miles south of Selsey was one of his roughest and taxing in his early years as coxswain resulting in a tow of nearly 10 hours. On 27th May 2007 the call to the yacht Pakaa vessel which was 19 miles south west of Selsey in rough seas, 9-10 SW winds and torrential rain resulted in the lifeboat out for 12 hrs. Martin has served on three classes of all-weather lifeboats and seen vast changes in their design from the 48ft 6in Oakley class RNLB Charles Henry to the 47ft Tyne class RNLB City of London and RNLB Voluntary Worker and all slipway launched to the current station boat the 13 metre Shannon class RNLB Denise and Eric launched and recovered from the beach.

During Martin’s time with the RNLI at Selsey 1973-2020 the all-weather lifeboats have launched 845 times on service. 139 lives were saved and a further 738 persons rescued.

In these times of social distancing Martin wasn’t permitted the last day celebrations so his daughter Helen arranged for her and some of her friends children and the children of lifeboat crew to produce pictures which decorated the front of his house which was a nice surprise when he arrived home.

Helen Rudwick

Pictures created by children

Helen Rudwick

Martin arrives home to see the pictures

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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.