25 years at the helm – Littlehampton Lifeboat’s Andy Harris returns to shore
A long standing member of the RNLI’s volunteer boat crew, Andy Harris, is stepping back from his role as helm after almost a quarter of a century saving lives at sea.
For 53 years there has been the continuous presence of a lifeboat station in Littlehampton funded entirely by generous charitable donations. Andy Harris has crewed the lifeboats for almost half of that time, taking on the role in 1996. An experienced seafarer familiar with the local tides, weather and seabed conditions he has guided crews through training and on emergency calls to assist those in distress at sea and in the river Arun. Asked what he has enjoyed most about the role Andy said: “the camaraderie, being out on the water, driving our fabulous lifeboats”.
Recalling memorable shouts, Andy was modest, but did mention an incident from 2011 when he and his fellow crew aboard Blue Peter 1 rescued 3 persons from a small 7 foot inflatable toy dinghy who had been reported to be half a mile off Worthing seafront and were waving for help. When the lifeboat arrived on scene the casualties were nearly two miles offshore showing signs of hypothermia and disorientation having spent a night at sea with only lightweight clothing and no lifejackets.
Blue Peter 1 was retired from the station in 2016 and replaced by the current Atlantic-85 vessel Renee Sherman, built in East Cowes. “It was a privilege to be able to drive the boat all the way from the Isle of Wight and bring her to her new home” says Andy, “together with our D-Class vessel Ray of Hope we have great lifesaving assets available to deploy”. He also recalls being asked to stand in with some fellow volunteers as extras, together with Blue Peter 1, for a Channel 4 comedy ‘The Inbetweeners’. Although the story line was set in Swanage, the river and sea front part of the filming was actually in Littlehampton.
Andy’s daytime job is as a builder working mostly on domestic contracts, but he’s never far from the water though as he runs fishing charters on his boat out of Littlehampton harbour.
Nick White, Lifeboat Operations Manager, said of Andy:
“Andy is a superb helm and held in high esteem by us all. We are delighted that he will still be part of the charity’s volunteer team here at Fisherman’s Quay as a mechanic and as a member of the shore crew where, using his many years of experience, he will assist launches and advise other RNLI volunteers on boat and incident handling.”
RNLI media contacts
Anthony Fogg, Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer, Littlehampton RNLI 07823 509032 email@example.com
Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer, London and South East 07785 296252 firstname.lastname@example.org
For enquiries outside normal business hours contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
For more information on the RNLI please visit rnli.org. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre rnli.org/news-and-media.
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.