Shoreham RNLI Lifeboat ‘legend’ says farewell after more than 50 years service
Peter Huxtable MBE has finally handed in his pager and wellies after volunteering at Shoreham RNLI Lifeboat Station for a staggering 51 years.
Peter joined as a volunteer crew member at the station and during his years of service he has showed selfless dedication to the RNLI and helped to save hundreds of lives.
In fact he saved 449 lives serving on both the all weather and inshore lifeboats and in 1991 he became coxswain of the Shoreham lifeboat, becoming the second longest serving coxswain in the history of the station.
Born in London, he moved to Shoreham-by-Sea when he was aged eight. Having grown up by the sea he became a fisherman and was soon asked to join the lifeboat crew.
In 2005 he was awarded an MBE for services to the RNLI. He has also been awarded two RNLI vellums for helping to rescue the crew of the stricken Greek vessel, the Athina B, off Brighton in 1980 and as coxswain for saving the lives of two crew on board the yacht Trimley Maid, which was in trouble in gale force nine winds off the coast in June 1999.
Peter also worked tirelessly for three years to raise money and promote the £1 million community appeal to help build a new lifeboat station at Shoreham.
He even took to the skies to publicise the appeal and wing walked his way into the record books by becoming the first ever RNLI coxswain to attempt the daring act in 2008.
The biplane he was standing on flew directly over the lifeboat station at Shoreham, giving him a bird’s eye view of it and the seas he has navigated while rescuing those in trouble.
In January 2009 he saw the old Shoreham lifeboat station on Kingston Beach, built in 1933, demolished and in September 2010 finally stepped into the new completed state-of-the-art lifeboat station.
Three months later and having already seen action on three previous station lifeboats, he proudly brought the new £2.7million RNLI lifeboat Enid Collett, the only Tamar-class lifeboat on the south coast, back to Shoreham and into her new boathouse.
On his last official day of service, the crew organised a final launch of the lifeboat and a surprise where he was winched off by the Solent Coastguard helicopter and put on the Newhaven lifeboat.
When he retired as coxswain on 31 December 2011, he was still an active volunteer at the station becoming a Deputy Launching Authority before taking over as Lifeboat Operations Manager and running the lifeboat station for five years.
He is even immortalised as a statuette on Shoreham Beach at the foot of the Adur Ferry Bridge across the river.
A modest Peter, 69, said: “Volunteering with the RNLI has been a huge part of my life. I have served 51 years and it was an immense honour and privilege. I have some amazing memories from over the years and have served with dedicated and great volunteers.
“I couldn’t have done any of it, particular my role as coxswain without the support of the lifeboat crew and my family. It is a team effort.
“I will always miss it, particularly when the adrenaline kicks in and takes over on a shout, and you know you have been able to help someone in trouble and being part of a team.”
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.