SHOREHAM lifeboatman Mike Fox has launched the all-weather lifeboat for the last time.
Having reached 65, the retirement age for serving lifeboat shore crew, Mr Fox has hung up his lifejacket and boots after 47 years’ service with the RNLI.
He launched the all-weather lifeboat for the last time on Tuesday, March 11, when it went on exercise.
Mr Fox comes from a long-serving family of lifeboat crew. He followed his dad, John Fox, who later became coxswain, and enrolled as crew on January 1, 1967.
He went on to serve on five of Shoreham’s all-weather lifeboats, under the command of six different coxswains. He was assistant mechanic on the boat from 1976 to 2001.
Mr Fox also completed a full tour of duty on the station’s inshore lifeboats, until retiring as ILB helmsman in March, 1994.
Over the years, Mr Fox, who now lives in Portslade, received several awards from the RNLI.
He was part of the rescue of three crew from the yacht Albin Ballad in August, 1973, with his dad, who as coxswain was awarded the RNLI’s bronze medal for his seamanship.
Mr Fox was awarded a Vellum for skill and judgment as the helmsman of the inshore lifeboat during the rescue of the crew from sailing dinghy Serendipity, which capsized west of the harbour in gales and rough seas on July 20, 1977.
He was also awarded an Institution Vellum for meritorious conduct for his part in the rescue of 26 crew from the Greek freighter Athina B, as she foundered in rough seas south of Shoreham, before beaching on Brighton Beach in 1980.
The lifeboat launched three times and the coxswain Ken Voice was awarded a silver medal for the rescue.
Mr Fox also received recognition for his part in three award-winning services on the station’s Tyne-class lifeboat, Hermione Lady Colwyn.
These include the rescue of the yacht Trimley Maid and her crew off Brighton in June, 1999, in force-nine winds; the fishing vessel Stephanie B in serious trouble, having suffered engine failure near Shoreham Harbour entrance, in south-west force-nine winds; and for the rescue of the 35ft trimaran Firey Cross and her crew in force-eight winds, 14 miles south of Shoreham, on June 30, 2002.
Mike retired as lifeboat crew in 2004 and became shore crew, launching and recovering the two lifeboats for the last 10 years.
He still does not plan to leave the lifeboat station quite yet, as he intends to become a guide showing visitors around the boathouse.
He said: “The lifeboat has been a huge part of my life. I have loved it and have some great memories. I am not ready to quite go yet so I hope to still be involved by showing visitors around.
“My sons, Adam and Tim, who are on the lifeboat crew, will ensure the Fox family name continues at the station.”