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Shoreham RNLI coxswain saves life on anniversary of 40-year volunteer journey

Shoreham RNLI proudly recognises the exceptional commitment and heroism of Simon Tugwell, who has dedicated an incredible 40 years of voluntary service to the RNLI. This remarkable milestone coincided with a recent life-saving rescue, highlighting Simon’s unwavering dedication to the community.

Photo – Shoreham RNLI

On Tuesday, 13 June, Simon, affectionately known as ‘Tuggy,’ served as the coxswain on the all-weather lifeboat when a distress call came in. A man had been stranded on an inflatable kayak off Hove, having been blown offshore by more than three miles. After enduring six hours alone at sea, the individual was cold, exhausted, and disoriented. With his vast experience and expertise, Simon and his crew successfully located and rescued the man, saving his life.

Simon’s association with the Shoreham lifeboat began at the young age of 17, following in the footsteps of his father, Geoff, who served as a crew member for over 41 years. Throughout his four decades of service, Simon climbed the ranks, becoming a senior helmsman on the inshore lifeboat and eventually a crewman on the all-weather lifeboat. His dedication and proficiency led him to become the second mechanic and second coxswain.

Having served on five different all-weather lifeboats and collaborated with five different coxswains, Simon has witnessed numerous changes and advancements within the RNLI. One of his early lifeboats was The Davys Family, a Rother-class vessel, which he joined while his father served as the emergency mechanic. His invaluable contributions have resulted in countless lives saved.

Photo – Shoreham RNLI

Over the years, Simon’s bravery and selflessness have been recognized with notable accolades. In 1999, he received an RNLI Vellum service certificate for rescuing the stricken yacht Trimley Maid amidst gale force nine winds off the coast. Additionally, he was presented with an RNLI’s Framed Letter of Thanks in 2011 for his actions when the yacht Crazy H collided with a 60ft trawler, leaving it dismasted on the edge of the shipping lanes 23 miles off Shoreham.

Simon’s dedication extends beyond traditional rescue operations. During the floods in Lewes and Uckfield in 2000, he spent hours in the inshore lifeboat, rescuing stranded individuals from their homes. In 2006, he and a fellow crew member had to be airlifted to safety after attempting to prevent a colossal 100m-long runaway barge from straying into the shipping lanes.

Photo Shoreham RNLI

Reflecting on his momentous 40-year journey, Simon expressed his deep gratitude for the support of his fellow coxswains, crews, station volunteers, and his family. He emphasized the honor and privilege of being able to help those in trouble and the satisfaction of being part of a dedicated team.

In a surprise celebration event held at the Sussex Yacht Club, Shoreham, Simon was presented with his RNLI 40-year service medal and 40-year bar. The event highlighted his exceptional contributions and the profound impact he has made on the community.

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