Redcar RNLI’s most decorated helm steps down

Redcar RNLI’s most decorated helmsman has hung up his lifejacket for the last time. 50-year-old Mark Reeves joined the lifeboat crew at the age of 17, and quickly rose through the ranks to become a helmsman of both inshore lifeboats at Redcar.

During his time, he was involved in a number of rescues which earned Mark and his fellow crew members recognition from the RNLI. As well as a number of formal letters of thanks from regional and national RNLI officials, he received two formal Thanks of the Institution on Velum, one of the highest awards the RNLI bestows.

The first was for the rescue of a man and woman, and their dog, from the base of Huntcliff, Saltburn in 1992. Then in August 2003 Mark was in charge of the lifeboat when it was called to rescue a lifeguard who had themselves got into difficulties during a rescue, again at Saltburn.

This was to be one of Marks most memorable rescues, and, as well as receiving a second Velum for it, he was awarded the prestigious Walter & Elizabeth Groombridge Award, a special award given for the most meritorious inshore lifeboat rescue each year.

Mark also recalls the part he played in the rescue of the crew of the fishing boat Gang Warily, who were in real danger of losing their lives when their fishing boat was smashed against rocks at Saltburn in August 1989. For this rescue the coxswain of the Teesmouth lifeboat, Peter Race, was awarded the RNLI’s Bronze Medal for bravery, while Mark and his fellow crew members on the Redcar lifeboat that day were recognised for their part in the successful rescue.

Mark said: ‘My time with the lifeboat has been amazing. It’s been so rewarding. I’m lucky to have been given the chance to help save peoples’ lives and I wish the crew all the best for the future.’

As Mark steps down from the RNLI because of work and family commitments, Mike Picknett, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Redcar said: ‘Mark served the RNLI Redcar station for over 30 years.

‘His commitment and dedication were second to none, and during his service he completed hundreds of rescues, saving many lives. He is a great character and always had a smile on his face, despite having to lead crews through some very challenging calls.

‘Mark has the honour of holding the highest number of bravery awards of any crew member in Redcar’s history. He should be very proud of this. It’s a true testament to his service with the RNLI.’