Two volunteer lifeboat crew celebrate 20 years volunteer service

Lifeboats News Release

We are fortunate in Swanage to have a number of crew members who give voluntary service for many years.

Tom Greasty, Matt Steeden and James Chadwick outside the Swanage Lifeboat Station as children. All three have gone on to become lifeboat crew.


Tom Greasty, Matt Steeden and James Chadwick outside the Swanage Lifeboat Station as children

For Matt Steeden and Tom Greasty, becoming a crew member was an ambition from a very young age and they now have both been awarded a medal to honour their 20 year’s service, all well before they reach the age of 40.

Matt is part of a lifeboat family with his Grandad, Victor Marsh, and his Dad Martin Steeden, both having served as former Coxswains on the Swanage Lifeboat. Matt grew up learning about the RNLI and seeing the work of the volunteers first hand. This inspired a desire for him to get involved and much of his childhood was spent close to or on the water. Matt joined Swanage Lifeboat Station aged 17 and is today a helmsman of the inshore lifeboat and Assistant Mechanic on the all-weather lifeboat.

Matt said ‘Since birth I have been involved with the lifeboat station. Myself and my cousins Gary Marsh and James Chadwick were christened on the boat back in 1983. I will never forget the sounds of the lifeboat, the calls to ‘knock out fore’ and ‘knock out aft’ before the rumble down the slip.

As a child my grandad would make me pull on a rope he had tied onto the winch, he told me that unless I pulled on the rope, he couldn’t rehouse the boat. I felt so important and pulled on the rope until I couldn’t pull anymore. The rope did nothing, but I didn’t know that until I was much older!’.

Tom also had an interest in the RNLI from a young age, spending hours playing on dinghies with childhood friends Matt, James Chadwick (Matt’s cousin), who is a former crew member, and Paul Bedford who is currently a member of Swanage lifeboat crew. Tom was a keen fisherman from a young age, winning many awards at the Swanage Angling Club. His hours watching and learning from the sea are skills that he uses to the present day, running Swanage Sea Fishing and sightseeing trips from Swanage, as well as being a lifeboat crew member. Tom joined Swanage Lifeboat Station when he was 17 and is today a helmsman on the inshore lifeboat and a Deputy Second Coxswain and Assistant Mechanic on the all-weather lifeboat.

Tom said ‘I joined the lifeboat crew because I work at sea. I started helping on boats aged 13 and started full time work at sea from 16 years old. I have always appreciated knowing that if anything goes wrong the RNLI are there to help, so I wanted to be part of the team that help people who are in trouble at sea’.

Matt and Tom have been friends for over 30 years and 20 of those have been whilst serving together on the lifeboats. Swanage lifeboat Coxswain Dave Turnbull said ‘we are very lucky to have Matt and Tom on the crew. Their years of experience are invaluable, it is only through spending hours at sea that a crew member can develop the depth of knowledge they have. Joining the lifeboat crew is a huge commitment, as volunteers we are regularly called away from work and family when the pager sounds, and I am grateful to all our volunteers who give their time’.

Notes to Editors

  • Photograph of Tom Greasty and Matt Steeden. Credit Roydon Woodford

- Childhood photo of Tom Greasty, Matt Steeden and James Chadwick.

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Matt Steeden and Tom Greasty with their 20 year service medals on Swanage Lifeboat slipway

RNLI/Roydon Woodford

Matt Steeden and Tom Greasty with their 20 year service medals.

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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