Exmouth RNLI crew to receive bravery awards
15:00 26 February 2012
Exmouth RNLI crewman Roger Jackson will be presented with an award for his efforts saving four at sea whose vessel capsized in stormy seas.
An Exmouth lifeboat man will be awarded a medal for gallantry after his efforts at sea saved four lives.
Volunteer crewmen Roger Jackson, 43, Mark Champion, 32, and Andrew Williams, also 32, in October launched the inshore lifeboat in treacherous conditions after four people on board a rigid inflatable boat were thrown into stormy seas off Exmouth.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institute has announced the bronze medal for gallantry will be presented to lifeboat helm Mr Jackson, following the safe rescue of the four from their capsized powerboat.
The thanks of the RNLI, inscribed on vellum, will be presented to Mr Champion and Mr Andrews for their efforts in helping bring the four casualties back to safety.
Mr Jackson, who has been a volunteer crewmember for 14 years, said it was an ‘honour’ to have received an accolade last awarded to Exmouth in 1954 and before that, 1894.
He said: “It’s great for the station and the crew. It’s nice to be appreciated.”
Nigel Jones, RNLI deputy divisional inspector for the South West, praised the crews’ skill and selfless determination in rescuing the four from harsh conditions.
Mr Jones said: “Roger Jackson displayed an exceptional level of courage, determination, leadership and boat-handling skill in a highly demanding environment.
“Faced with incredible pressure to achieve the rescue with very little margin for error, he nevertheless held his composure and carried out a successful rescue.
“His skill, tenacity and decisiveness under pressure ensured the timely rescue of all four casualties. His impressive boat-handling skills under such exceptional circumstances are particularly worthy of note.
“I must add praise for Mark Champion and Andrew Williams who played a vital role in ensuring the incident was dealt with in a professional and speedy manner.
“They acted selflessly, demonstrating extraordinary levels of tenacity and teamwork. This ensured a successful conclusion to the rescue of the four people.”
Mr Jackson will be presented with his medal in May at the RNLI’s annual presentation of awards, held at the Barbican in London.
Mr Champion and Mr Williams will be presented with the vellum at Exmouth’s lifeboat station.
The trio’s lifesaving efforts were recognised after they battled the inshore lifeboat, the George Bearman, through near gale force winds and waves of a metre-and-a-half to reach four casualties who were clinging to their capsized vessel.
The RNLI said Mr Jackson’s timing was ‘critical’ to ensure the lifeboat was in the right location, to coincide with the wave patterns, which would enable the casualties to swim to the crew.
It was down to crew members Mark Champion and Andrew Williams to use their weight and skill to steady the lifeboat, while plucking each casualty from the stormy sea.
An RNLI spokesman said: “As the three lifeboat crew reached the main part of the channel, they were immediately battling harsh conditions.
“At one stage they had to work hard to keep the lifeboat upright, while Roger Jackson negotiated the safest route possible, using the lifeboat’s full engine power to climb the face of very large waves.
“Mr Jackson immediately understood that the casualties could become separated from the boat and lost in the dangerous, confused and large seas with their chance of survival being significantly reduced.
On each approach he had to time his passes accurately so each casualty started their swim while the boats were between wave crests and so they could, therefore, be recovered before the next swell was reached.”