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Family traditions continue at Bembridge RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Meet John, who is continuing a family RNLI tradition which stretches back more than a century!

John alongside RNLB Norman Harvey (D-778)

RNLI/Mike Samuelson

John Attrill
John Attrill, our full-time mechanic has added another string to his bow having just been passed out as a D class helm on Bembridge RNLI ’s Inshore Lifeboat. John joined the crew in 2019, and his family has links to the station that trace back to its first lifeboat in 1867.

John’s great-great-great grandfather (Joey) was coxswain of Bembridge Lifeboat from 1878 to 1905. On 9 March 1888, the three masted SS Sirenia ran aground on the Atherstone Ledge (about half way between St Catherine’s Point and Freshwater). History relates that when the Sirenia first came ashore, Moses Munt, coxswain of the Brighstone lifeboat contacted Joey to tell him of the wrecking. Joey and second coxswain James Baker immediately set off to cover the 15 miles to Atherfield on foot in their leather sea boots to see if they could assist in any way. On arrival they found out the sad news that on her second trip to the Sirenia, the Brighstone lifeboat had capsized and Moses Munt and second coxswain Tom Cotton plus two crew from the Sirenia had been lost. Joey immediately volunteered with others to man the lifeboat for a third, successful trip out to the Sirenia and the remaining crew were brought ashore. On completion Joey and James walked back to Bembridge. The Brooke lifeboat was also involved in the rescue and also capsized, sadly loosing the second coxswain Reuben Cooper.

John’s father Alan and his uncle Geoff, along with Greame ‘Bowy’ White, were crew of the Bembridge Inshore lifeboat when in August 1993 they rescued the three crew from the yacht Bari that had run aground on the Bembridge Ledge at night in bad weather. Helmsman Alan subsequently received Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum for the service and Geoff and Bowy received Vellum Service Certificates. In May 1994 the same crew rescued the three crew from the motor cruiser Jade that had also run aground at night on the Bembridge Ledge in rough seas. All subsequently received signed Letters of Thanks from the Chairman of the RNLI.

John has lived all his life in Bembridge; married to Amy and his 8 year old son Teddy is already a well versed in all things to do with Bembridge RNLI!

An amazing family commitment and congratulations to John for his most recent success.

RNLI media contacts

  • Mike Samuelson, Bembridge RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07785 593254 or [email protected]

  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825 [email protected]

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

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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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.