RNLI volunteers recognised in the New Year Honours

Lifeboats News Release

Six Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) volunteers have been recognised for their vital role in helping the charity save lives at sea through the New Year’s Honours.


Philip Eaglen, Shore Crew and Mechanic at RNLI Wells-next-the-Sea

A former lifeboat mechanic who now volunteers for the charity, a retired seagoing crew member who continues voluntary maintenance work, two volunteer Lifeboat Operations Managers who oversee the day-to-day running of their respective lifeboat stations and two fundraising branch Chairs who have raised vital funds to help save lives at sea, are among the RNLI recipients who have all been recognised for their incredible contribution to the charity.

RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie said: ‘Following a challenging 2020, it is particularly pleasing to see these RNLI volunteers recognised in the New Year Honours list. Together, they personify the RNLI’s ‘One Crew’ ethos, representing the variety and diversity of roles from a former full-time mechanic to shore crew and fundraisers to station managers, who collectively deliver a shared vision to save everyone. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, congratulations to you all for being recognised for your longstanding service, hard work and selfless commitment. And thank you for everything you do to help the RNLI save lives at sea.’

Philip Eaglen, Shore Crew and Mechanic at RNLI Wells-next-the-Sea Lifeboat Station has given 51 years to saving lives at sea and is awarded with a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services.

At the age of 18, Philip officially joined as shore crew in 1969, although had been around the lifeboat station from the age of 15 helping out on the beach when the lifeboat was required to launch.

During his time with the RNLI, Philip has held a number of roles including volunteer Head Tractor Driver, a role vital for launching the lifeboat and also the full-time Mechanic ensuring the lifeboat was always ready to respond when a call came in.

Philip has spent 51 years responding to the pager, and in addition to his volunteering with the RNLI has also given 27 years of service as a volunteer fire fighter.

Philip said: ‘I can't believe it, being honoured for doing what I enjoy. I’m just one of a team of dedicated lifesavers, and have been for more than 50 years. We have a serious job to do but it's very rewarding.'

Michael Whistler, Southend-on-Sea Lifeboat Station volunteer for over 40 years, is awarded with a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services.

When Michael began volunteering at Southend-on-Sea RNLI in 1979 aged 18, he had no seagoing experience, but very quickly responded to training and became an operational crew member. His roles at station have included Station Mechanic, Helm and Hovercraft Pilot & Commander.

Although he retired from the seagoing crew after 40-years’ service in 2019, he continues to carry out the planned maintenance on the 3 RNLI lifeboats and the Inshore Rescue Hovercraft. He is well known as an Ambassador for the RNLI at local and national events, earlier fundraising activities including cycling 555 miles from Scotland to Southend.

Michael continues to pass on his experience and vast knowledge to younger members of the crew and to be involved with fundraising events. During his 40 years, he had been to sea on 1200 out of 4881 callouts. The total number of people aided/assisted was 7,179 (710 would have died).

Michael said: ‘I am pleased and delighted to receive the MBE for 40 years of voluntary service as a crew member of the Southend-on-Sea RNLI lifeboat crew. I've enjoyed all of my time with the charity and would like to thank all of my fellow crew members over the years for their friendship and support.’

Richard Griffiths, volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Aberystwyth RNLI, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of his charity work on the Wales coast after dedicating 47 years to saving lives at sea.

Richard has dedicated a total of 47 years to the RNLI and in the last 19 years has led the lifeboat station as volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager. His operational decision-making and station management skills are outstanding, and he is greatly valued by crew, management, volunteers and coastal personnel both past and present.

Alongside managing the lifeboat station, Richard has been involved in local fundraising activity and events and with his support over the last three years shop income has increased by 20% to over £70,000 per annum.

Richard said: ‘I’m very surprised but honoured to be receiving a BEM – the news still doesn’t feel real. My Father was awarded a BEM in 1988 and I still have his medal at home, so to be awarded one myself for my work with the RNLI is a great privilege. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of characters during my time with the RNLI – both at Borth and Aberystwyth - and continue to volunteer alongside a good crew today.’

Edward Nuzum, volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at The Lizard, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of the efficient running of the station and the smooth implementation of changes over the last 15 years to help maintain and enhance the lifesaving service on the South West coast.

Originally joining the RNLI at The Lizard Lifeboat Station in 2005 as a Deputy Launching Authority, Edward soon progressed to volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) in 2010.

He was personally responsible for ensuring the transition from a 14-knot to a 25-knot lifeboat was conducted in a manner that satisfied both the maritime standards of the RNLI and the ability of the crew, enhancing their skills and levels of professionalism. He organised the station into operating from two temporary facilities and subsequently, the newly built lifeboat station ensuring lifesaving capability was maintained.

Edward (known as Ned) is also the driving force behind the Lifeboat Management Group and is heavily involved with local fundraising teams and supporters. He is at the heart of the local community and works tirelessly to promote the RNLI at every opportunity. He recently arranged for a young supporter to be recognised and thanked by arranging a special visit to the RNLI All-weather Lifeboat Centre for them.

Ned said: ‘News of this honour was a combination of sheer surprise and personal delight. It is also a worthy recognition and a big salute to the unwavering commitment and support I receive in my role from a marvellous team, almost 80 strong here at The Lizard Lifeboat Station. Collectively we’ve championed considerable change and overcome many challenges together over the past decade with astonishing enthusiasm and unquestionable determination from all our volunteers. I’m absolutely thrilled and I sincerely thank them all.’

Weston-super-Mare Fundraising Branch Chair, Peter Elmont, has been involved with the RNLI for 26 years and has driven fundraising efforts and exceeded targets to achieve over £800,000 in three years. He has been awarded with a BEM.

Peter is a great motivator to old and new committee members and encourages them to be more ambitious in their fundraising. Peter has championed the appeal for a new lifeboat station and set an ambitious target of raising £300,000 in three years. After just two years, the milestone target was passed, and total funds raised now stand at an incredible £820,000.

Always looking for new ideas to fundraise, Peter visited Swanage Lifeboat Station Open Week and set about organising a Lifeboat Week at Weston. Doing much of the initial start-up work himself he also engaged with local businesses for support. One event in particular during the week raised over £16,000 in one evening.

Due to his tireless efforts, the lifeboat station appeal total continues to grow and he has now set himself a staggering target of reaching the £1M mark.

Peter said: ‘I am absolutely proud as punch. I’m ever so glad for the station at Weston-super-Mare that the entire fundraising team has been recognised for their effort during my time as Chairman over the last nine years. This award would not have been possible without the support of my wife, Bridget, who is also the Weston-super-Mare Shop Manager and my rock.

Mary Thomas has dedicated 45 years to the charity and has contributed to saving lives at sea by raising funds as the Chair at RNLI Cleethorpes Fundraising Branch and has been awarded with a British Empire Medal (BEM).

Affectionately known as ‘Lifeboat Lady’ in Cleethorpes due to her dedication to the RNLI over the past 45 years, Mary is a unique and truly inspirational person who continually puts others before herself. Under her service the branch has raised £750,000 for the RNLI and she is regularly seen out in all weathers with her collection box. No matter how small the amount raised, she inspires her team of fundraisers with her selfless pride in supporting the charity.

In 1975, Mary became the founding member of the local RNLI fundraising team, raising awareness and enthusiasm within schools and adult groups, and selling RNLI souvenirs in North Lincolnshire from her caravan before the RNLI shop was established.

Due largely to her drive and motivation, an RNLI shop opened in the town and subsequently, the first Cleethorpes RNLI station was opened in 1987. She was instrumental in driving a local fundraising project to help build the lifeboat station and enthusiastically organised balls, dinners and many other fundraising activities. In 1994 she was appointed Vice Chair of the Fundraising Branch and then Chair in 2006, a position she still holds today.

Between 2005 and 2013, she was also the Branch Souvenir Secretary and Shop Manager. This was a demanding role, including being responsible for all the RNLI shop activities from ordering to accounting. Over the last 15 years alone, the shop has raised £300,000 for the RNLI.

Mary said: ‘One of the reasons I joined the RNLI with my late husband Ken was because my dad was a deep sea fisherman for 50 years.

‘Ken and I ran a voluntary rescue boat in the summer months at Cleethorpes for years in the 1970s before the RNLI station opened and the local council started their beach safety service, so I've seen how quickly people can get into trouble in the water.

‘It's just wonderful to receive this honour and I'm so proud. I've met some lovely people fundraising for the RNLI since 1975 and it's been a real team effort all the way.’


Michael Whistler, Southend-on-Sea Lifeboat Station volunteer for over 40 years


Richard Griffiths, volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Aberystwyth


Edward Nuzum, volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager


Weston-super-Mare Fundraising Branch Chair, Peter Elmont


Mary Thomas has dedicated 45 years to the charity

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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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 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.