Portsmouth RNLI crew gather to remember their longest serving crew member

Lifeboats News Release

Portsmouth RNLI volunteers past and present gathered at the lifeboat station this week (Wednesday 15 September) for a Service of Remembrance for station helm and Deputy Launch Authority Colin Beeston who passed away at the weekend.

Photo of RNLI volunteer Colin Beeston


RNLI volunteer Colin Beeston

Colin, who joined the RNLI in 1973 at 17 years of age, was the station’s longest serving volunteer, having served on the lifeboat as crew and helm and, for the past twenty years, as Deputy Launch Authority (DLA), responsible for launching the lifeboat and co-ordinating rescues.

During his time at Portsmouth RNLI Colin launched to sea on the lifeboat thousands of times, helping to save hundreds of lives off the Hampshire coast*.

‘Colin led from the front and was pivotal to the service Portsmouth RNLI provides,’ said Rob Gargaro, current Helm at Portsmouth RNLI. ‘His commitment to this cause and providing service to others sits within his moral fibre in the way the word Southsea can be found throughout a stick of rock. As you can imagine the whole station is devastated by his passing’.

Portsmouth helm Gareth Davies said Colin’s commitment to the station and the RNLI was exemplary: ‘He was always there in moments of need for both the station and the crew. He was a valued source of information, experience and guidance to many of us over the years. He will be sadly missed by everyone at Portsmouth Lifeboat station not just for what he did for the station over his many years of service to the RNLI, but as a dear friend’.

As well as saving lives on the water Colin, who was also previously Commodore of the Eastney Cruising Association and active in the local church community, played a key role in training crew at the station as well as providing leadership, mentoring and compassionate support to the Portsmouth volunteers.

When he had to retire from serving on the lifeboat Colin continued to play a leading role in saving lives at sea in his role as DLA and particularly in understanding the importance of the latest life-saving technologies and equipment as well as ensuring the crew were able to use it with confidence.

Colin was also instrumental in raising money for four lifeboats over the past quarter of a century, as well as being involved in the construction of the current boathouse at Langstone Harbour.

‘Over the last 48 years, his devotion and passion to improving the lives of others and keeping them safe around and on the sea are evident in the lives saved, the facilities our crew operate from and the high level of service and expertise they provide to those in difficulty around the waters off Portsmouth and Southsea,’ added Gargaro.

The Service of Remembrance was attended by crew members past and present as well as many of those who knew Colin. Volunteers from Hayling Island RNLI Lifeboat Station also attended in their Atlantic 85 and D class lifeboats to support the Portsmouth crew. The service was streamed to those unable to attend. RNLI Chaplain, Father John Strain of St James’ Church, Milton, who led the proceedings, told those gathered that Colin was much more, and never less, than a family friend to them all.

‘His deep and wholehearted commitment to the RNLI, his incomparable knowledge of the waters of the Solent, his persistent care, consideration and generosity to others were all combined with a disarmingly gentle sense of humour,’ said Father John. ‘I shall miss him enormously. I owe a massive part of my life, in my later years, to his unstinting encouragement to me as RNLI Chaplain. I am deeply grateful for all the guidance he gave me over so many years’.

As part of the service the crew also remembered and marked the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who was the longest serving patron in the near 200-year history of the RNLI. During her as patron Her Majesty attended many official occasions, recognising the efforts of thousands of volunteers during visits to lifeboat stations.



Photo 1: Colin Beeston

Photo 2: The Service of Remembrance held at Portsmouth Lifeboat Station yesterday (September 14) evening.

Photo 3: Colin Beeston, in his role as Deputy Launch Authority, pictured with members of the Portsmouth Lifeboat crew. Colin is front row on the right.

Note to Editors:

Station records, which go back to November 1973, show that between then and the present day Colin took part in 3,736 launches and was involved in the saving of 552 lives. RNLI personalised records which began in 1994 (and cover from then until the present day) show Colin was involved in 105 launches, saved 25 lives, aided 140 people and spent more than 80 hours at sea on service, as well as spending 32 hours at sea on exercise.

RNLI Media contacts

· Pippa Saunders, Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer, Portsmouth Lifeboat Station (07531) 6914 [email protected]

· Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer (South East), 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 [email protected]

· For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

RNLI online: For more information on the RNLI please visit http://www.rnli.org/. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre.

The Service of Remembrance held at Portsmouth Lifeboat Station on September 14.


The Service of Remembrance held at Portsmouth Lifeboat Station on September 14.
Colin Beeston, in his role as Deputy Launch Authority, pictured with members of the Portsmouth Lifeboat crew. Colin is front row on the right.


Colin Beeston, in his role as Deputy Launch Authority, pictured with members of the Portsmouth Lifeboat crew. Colin is front row on the right.

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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