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20 years volunteer service for Newhaven RNLI Second Coxswain

Lifeboats News Release

Second Coxswain Lee Blacknell is presented his twenty year long service medal having achieved the impressive RNLI volunteering milestone earlier this summer.


Lee Blacknell, Second Coxswain, receives 20-year long service medal
Praise and appreciation expressed to Lee by his fellow crew members has underlined the importance of what it means to volunteer with the RNLI for such a significant length of time.

Phill Corsi, Area Lifesaving Manager, says: ‘Lee Blacknell signed up to serve the lifeboat with a keen desire to help those in need on the water. Through his commitment to the role, in training and on service, Lee has gained enormous experience. He shares this with exceptional humility and generosity to the benefit of all the Newhaven team.’

During Lee’s twenty years of service, he has launched on more than 415 shouts. The last twelve years of which, in the role of Second Coxswain. Some shouts have been extremely sad, and others less so. Lee recalls the incident of the floating hot tub.

When volunteers are prepared to go the extra mile are the moments that resonate for Newhaven’s Second Coxswain.

Lee Blacknell, says: ‘To be on a shout, in the middle of winter, in a howling gale and driving sleet, searching for a man overboard. When crew are seasick, wet and cold. And yet, after twelve hours of searching, our volunteers still want to stay out and find that person. It’s a powerful need to do the best you can.’

With exercise and service launches combined, Lee has amassed more than 2,270 hours of experience afloat.

‘But rough weather, the rougher the better. That’s what I enjoy, it’s what keeps me thinking and enthused’.

Lee’s approach to working the lifeboat is one of respect for weather and sea. He remembers one challenging situation, a shout to a sailor no longer in command of his yacht, heading for the cliffs.

Lee Blacknell, says: ‘We launched to a single handed sailor. His head had been struck by the boom. He was being blown onto a lee shore and was very close to Seaford Head in lumpy seas.’

Lee helmed the lifeboat alongside and down sea of the yacht, in order to gently nudge the course of the vessel out to sea.

‘That was easier said than done with eight metres of mast swaying like a joust at the flying bridge, but we managed to manoeuvre his course safely seaward.’

At this point, two crew prepared to transfer to the casualty vessel, but one of them fell into the water. RNLI Eastbourne’s ALB launched, as well as a Coastguard helicopter.

The Newhaven crew member was safely recovered from the water and the transfer successfully executed. The sailor was winched up to the helicopter and the lifeboat towed the yacht back to harbour.

‘It was a crazy shout. We must try and turn what mother nature throws at us to our advantage, not fight it.’

Roger Cohen MBE, Lifeboat Operations Manager, says: ‘This is a commendable milestone in our station’s history. Thank you Lee for your commitment and assisting the team in our endeavours to save lives at sea.’

Notes for the Editor
Nick Gentry was also awarded his forty year long service award:

Lee shore - sometimes also called a leeward, is a nautical term to describe a stretch of shoreline that is to the lee side of a vessel, meaning the wind is blowing towards land.

Flying bridge – is an open deck located above the bridge with a duplicate set of navigating equipment.

ALB – All-weather Lifeboat

RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Roz Ashton, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07900 887423 or [email protected] or Paul Dunt, Regional Media Officer on 07785 296252 Paul_Du[email protected] or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

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John E Periam

Lee Blacknell, Newhaven RNLI volunteer crew for 20 years, 13 years of which as Second Coxswain

RNLI/Christopher Moore

Roger Cohen MBE presents Lee Blacknell with RNLI 20 year long service medal

RNLI/Christopher Moore

Long service recipients Lee Blacknell and Nick Gentry with their fellow crew of Newhaven Lifeboat

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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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.