Campbeltown RNLI coxswain retires after 38 years’ service to the RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Coxswain David Cox prepares for life without a pager as he retires after 38 years’ service to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution after joining the crew at 17 years old.

Campbeltown RNLI's retiring coxswain David Cox

RNLI/Nicola Wareham

Campbeltown RNLI's retiring coxswain David Cox

After 30 years full-time service with the RNLI, David Cox aka ‘Coxy’ retires from his position at Campbeltown Lifeboat Station on 24 November 2021.

David realised he had a passion for the water when he was thirteen and enrolled in the Sea Cadets, where he learned about seamanship, navigation, sailing and other water sports. David was later asked to join the lifeboat by Arthur Gilles when he was seventeen.

David trained as an emergency mechanic as he was an apprentice mechanic with ‘Kintyre Farmers.’ He went to college to study Agricultural Engineering, this prepared him when the full-time mechanic position became available following coxswain Alastair Gilchrist’s’ retirement. David was also an emergency coxswain at Campbeltown RNLI.

David’s greatest challenge, he says, was working with volunteers. ‘‘There are so many personalities and attitudes and it can be quite challenging to keep the equilibrium and dynamic at the station.

‘‘I have four kids, three grand kids and at times it feels like 28 kids at the lifeboat station!’’ laughed Coxy.

We asked Coxy about his memories regarding some of the call outs he has attended, and which ones would stick with him forever.

He said: ‘‘There have been so many but the ones where someone had lost their lives will never leave me. The guy who was going to cross the Atlantic on a boat no bigger than a bath tub set off to fan-fare and three hours later the ‘maroons’ went off and we rescued him off Peninver. Not forgetting the young man who went missing on the surfboard and survived 32 hours at sea.’’

David added: ‘‘People rarely see or can picture what happens after the lifeboat leaves the pier. For the crew, it’s the unknown, could be 3 o’clock on a winter’s morning, southerly gale of wind, huge seas and zero visibility - ‘It’s not for everyone’ but the knowledge we are going to try and help someone in difficulty at sea, drives us.

‘‘You will rarely hear the members of emergency services ‘blowing their own trumpet’ because a good outcome one day, could be a tragedy the next. What they do get when we return is a “good job guys” no matter what the outcome because we know we have done everything we could.’’

‘‘Families also play a huge part in every lifeboat crews' life, and without their support and understanding, it would be impossible to do what we do.

‘‘Our crew are a group of ‘boisterous/girlsterous’ individuals full of enthusiasm and energy and this is a great binding agent and over the years this attitude has fuelled the crews and allowed new, lifelong friendships to develop.

‘‘I will miss being ‘The Boss,’ I will miss the banter, I will miss my wife Kareen standing at the bottom of the stairs on an early morning shout with my car keys and the door open as I fumble down trying to put my socks on.

‘‘And I will miss leading a team of outstanding people whom I am proud and honoured to have served with. People have shown me respect, commitment and loyalty and it has been an incredible privilege to have been part of that team and this organisation.’’

Campbeltown Launch Operations Manager, George Bradley, added: ‘‘I am sorry to see Coxy go after working together for 20 years, we have never had a fall out and it has been a pleasure to work alongside you all of them years.

‘‘The crew and I wish you all the happiness in the world on your well-deserved retirement. You have provided excellent service to the RNLI and you will be severely missed at the station.’’

Coxy added: ‘‘I would like to wish all the best to my successor Ruaridh McAulay, and I am sure he will have the support of the whole crew going forward.’’

David’s last day at Campbeltown RNLI will be 24 November 2021 and all the crew would like to thank him for all he has done for us and wish him the very best.

Picture credit: Campbeltown RNLI's retiring coxswain David Cox by Nicola Wareham

Notes to editors:

The RNLI is Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Campbeltown RNLI is based at The Captain Ian Weir Crawford Boathouse, Campbeltown PA28 6ED.

RNLI media contacts

For further information, please contact:

Carla Jackson, Lifeboat Press Officer for Campbeltown RNLI on 07821409553 or email

Martin Macnamara, Regional Media Officer (Scotland), 07920 365929 or

Gemma McDonald, Regional Media Manager (Scotland), 07826 900639 or

RNLI Press Office 01202 336789 or

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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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