Torbay Cox Achieves 500th shout during pandemic

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI Torbay celebrates Mark Criddle OBE who earlier this year went out on his 500th launch as Coxswain.

RNLI/Nigel Millard

RNLI Torbay Coxswain Mark Criddle OBE

As one of the RNLI’s most decorated and longest serving Coxswains, Mark has been involved with 835 shouts and saving 123 lives since joining the charity as volunteer crew in 1994. RNLI Torbay has carried out a total of 2,017 rescues since Mark became Coxswain in 2002.

Mark went out on his 500th shout during lockdown on 7 May 2020 at 2.38am when, with his volunteer crew, he launched RNLI Torbay’s all-weather lifeboat to evacuate a crew member of a vehicle carrier 3.5 miles North East of Berry Head who had chest pains.

During his 26 years with RNLI Torbay, Mark has led many dramatic rescues including saving the lives of eight people from a sinking cargo ship in a severe storm on the evening of 13 January 2008. For that rescue he was awarded the RNLI’s Silver Medal but says that his real reward is much more about the look in people’s eyes when they know they are safe.

Mark said: “When you pull someone out of the water who didn’t mean to be in there, when they know they are going to be OK, the expression in their eyes is something that you can’t put into words. I couldn’t have achieved any of the rescues I have been involved in without the support and bravery of RNLI Torbay’s volunteer crew. We are a team and I am extremely proud of everything they do.”

Commenting on Mark’s milestone, Nick O’Brien, RNLI Torbay’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: “Everyone at the lifeboat station is incredibly proud of Mark’s extraordinary achievement and although the pandemic has stopped us form marking it sooner, we couldn’t let the year pass without celebrating. Mark’s combination of leadership, seamanship and bravery make him an exceptional leader and all our RNLI Torbay volunteers benefit from his experience and professionalism. He is truly an example to us all.”

Read more background on Mark Criddle's achievements, including being awarded an OBE in 2018.

Mark Criddle chats about his experiences as RNLI Torbay Coxswain with Jeremy Paxman in this recent podcast.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Mark Criddle, telephone or text Shona Duncan, Torbay Lifeboat Press Officer (volunteer), on 07778 002866.

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 over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, 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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