'Large wellies to fill': Yarmouth lifeboat coxswain retires after 37 years

After 37 years of service, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat station's coxswain mechanic, Paddy Lee, is retiring.

After 37 years of service, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat station's coxswain mechanic, Paddy Lee, is retiring. - Credit: Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station

After 37 years of service and countless rescues at sea Gorleston lifeboat station's coxswain mechanic is retiring.

Paddy Lee joined the crew in March 1984 and served under three coxswains.  

He was appointed full-time mechanic in 1996, before becoming coxswain mechanic – which involves operating and maintaining the lifeboat station's vessels – in 2012. 

Paddy Lee joined Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station in 1984.

Paddy Lee joined Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station in 1984. - Credit: Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station

Over the years, Mr Lee was involved in numerous rescues but his most memorable were two incidents in 1995 and 1996. 

Mr Lee helped in the rescue of a crew, from the yacht Paule D’Eau, who were left clinging to the mast and rigging after the vessel ran aground. 

Just a year later, on August 26, 1996, he was also involved in an 11-hour rescue at sea, which saved a crew on the yacht Olline, in gale force winds and waves up to 40 ft.

On another occasion, he was awarded a Royal Humane Society testimonial after diving into the river to rescue nine-year-old Ben Buckland.  The youngster tripped and fell over the quayside whilst fishing with friends.  

Paddy Lee dived into the river to rescue nine-year-old, Ben Buckland.

Paddy Lee was awarded a Royal Humane Society testimonial on vellum after diving into the river to rescue nine-year-old, Ben Buckland. - Credit: Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station

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Lifeboat operations manager, captain Lindsey Wigmore, said: “Paddy has been the backbone of the Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Station, keeping the Trent class All Weather Lifeboat (AWL) Samarbeta in first class condition and the Waveney class Barham before that.  

“He has trained dozens of volunteers at Gorleston and his experience has been an inspiration to many young men and women.  

“For the past four years, it has been a pleasure to work alongside him and he has always been available to discuss ongoing projects and crew welfare.  

“His experience and knowledge have been invaluable”. 

After 37 years of service Gorleston lifeboat station's coxswain mechanic, Paddy Lee, is retiring.

After 37 years of service, Great Yarmouth and Gorleston lifeboat station's coxswain mechanic, Paddy Lee, is retiring. - Credit: Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station

Mr Lee will officially retire on March 15, but he will take the Samarbeta out to sea for the last time today [Sunday, March 6], as part of a ceremony to mark his retirement and to welcome incoming coxswain, Andy Mason and new full-time station mechanic, Rod Wells. 

Mr Wells said: “We all wish Paddy the very best in his retirement.  

“I have some very large yellow wellies to fill as the station’s new mechanic.”  

Great Yarmouth and Gorleston's All Weather Lifeboat (AWL) Samarbeta. 

Great Yarmouth and Gorleston's All Weather Lifeboat (AWL) Samarbeta. - Credit: Great Yarmouth and Gorleston Lifeboat Station

Mr Mason added: “From the crew and myself, we would like to thank Paddy for his years of service, first class training and leadership at the station.  

“He will be missed and we wish him the very best for the future.”