CREW members bid farewell to Newhaven Lifeboat’s long-serving coxswain with a special surprise.
Ian Johns, who started out with the organisation 37 years ago, has retired from his role.
During his last day on duty Eastbourne RNLI Lifeboats welcomed the Newhaven resident aboard ‘The Royal Thames’.
In a clandestine operation between the crews, Eastbourne and Newhaven Lifeboats met off Belle Tout and Ian was transferred via Eastbourne’s inshore lifeboat (ILB) to the all-weather lifeboat (ALB).
The Newhaven resident originally thought he was going out on a routine night-training exercise but unbeknown to him RNLI Eastbourne was waiting offshore to help celebrate his retirement. Having had an unfamiliar shaking up in the ILB, he boarded the ALB and took the helm for a short trip.
Ian joined as a crew member 37 years ago and was third and second coxswain before taking on the role as coxswain.
One of the biggest operations the crew has been part of was when the vessel Calypso, which was carrying more than 700 people on board, caught fire 14 miles south of Beachy Head. The team was joined from other RNLI crews from Eastbourne, Hastings and Shoreham for the operation.
Ian said, “I’m quite sad about retiring, having said that when I look back on my time with the RNLI I feel privileged to be part of a wonderful organisation.
“It’s been absolutely wonderful and the crew have been really good.”
Paul Legnere will now take over the ropes from Ian.
Ian’s wife Pat has also decided to retire her post as volunteer press officer for Newhaven Lifeboats, a post she held for 31 years.
Ian, owner of Meeching Boats, hopes to spend more time with his family but will still be on stand-by for the RNLI.