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TV Chef on the Rocks

At 15:56 on Monday 15th August, Sidmouth Lifeboat pagers were activated by Portland Coastguard. The task was to assist a fishing vessel that had been washed onto rocks near Beer Head with two persons onboard. The lifeboat launched at 16:05 with Glyn Jones (helm), Alex Goodall (navigator), Naomi Firth and Guy Russell (crew), and proceeded at speed towards. The sea state was moderate with 4 foot waves and south-westerly force 4 winds.

The lifeboat identified the stricken vessel at 16:15, balanced precariously amongst rocks near Hooken Landslip, west of Beer Head. The vessel was being buffeted in the surf and was taking on water. It was as yet unclear if the hull had been breached. The two persons onboard were uninjured and were wearing appropriate clothing including lifejackets.
The seas around Beer Head are always larger than the surrounding area due to the contours of the sea bed combined with strong currents.

Due to the close proximity of large rocks surrounding the immediate area, Glyn Jones held station 50m offshore, and Naomi Firth entered the water on a swimming line to make her way to the fishing boat. After a very hard swim through the rocks in a rough sea she reached and climbed onboard the vessel. The tow line from the lifeboat was then attached to the other end of the swimming line and Naomi pulled it across to attach it to the fishing boat. Glyn Jones had to back the 24 foot lifeboat through a narrow gap in the rocks to a position inside the reef that allowed the tow line to be attached to the stricken vessel, with Guy Russell and Alex Goodall on the stern of the lifeboat guiding the line in and keeping it clear of the 300hp engines. The lifeboat then proceeded to tow the vessel off the rocks and navigate it around the other rocks in the area, finally to bring it alongside the lifeboat. The condition of the two people aboard was assessed and they appeared to be shaken but uninjured, and a stern tow was set up to take the fishing vessel around to the comparative safety of Beer beach. Naomi Firth remained onboard to assist in securing the tow line and bailing out water.

The vessels reached Beer beach shortly after 17:00 and it was decided to use a winch to pull the vessel onto the beach to check for hull damage. The fishing boat was towed alongside right up to the shore and gently beached. A local fisherman kindly let us use his winch to retrieve the boat from the water so that a thorough inspection could be undertaken. The two casualties were also put ashore via the pontoon, and the Coastguard took control of the scene. Sidmouth Lifeboat stood down and returned to station, arriving back in Sidmouth at 17:38.

The boat was refueled by other members of the Sidmouth Lifeboat team including Simon Sparrow (coxswain), Big Phil Marish, Rob Cole, Mark Wearing, Adam Davies and Guy Bennett The lifeboat was again ready for service at 18:04.

‘I want to say a massive thank you to both the Portland Coastguard and the Sidmouth Lifeboat team. We got ourselves into a sticky situation and their response was fantastic. It is great to know that when things go wrong at sea we have a brilliant and dedicated team of men and women standing by to make sure incidents and accidents don’t become disasters.’ Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

28 May 2011


A family day out at the beach for off-duty Sidmouth Lifeboat second Cox Phil Shepperd turned into a rescue mission when he spotted a couple stranded in water by strong off-shore winds on Tuesday.

Phil, 42, fought for 30-minutes to single-handedly tow the duo – and their large tandem kayak – back to shore, after leaping into a boat and paddling out to the pair.

The modest dad-of-two said he didn’t think anything of his rescue antics and said: “When an off-shore wind is blowing like it did there’s always something waiting to happen.”

Our oldest member of the team.. Alan Charlton

Alan Charlton takes to the sea in the lifeboat for the first time on his 100th Birthday! 

The Support Team are privileged to have the services of Alan Charlton. Born in 1911 he still turns out in all weathers to welcome visitors to the Lifeboat Station. Only recently has he stopped turning out two times a week!

After training, Alan started working as an Electrical Engineer in 1933 with Bradford Municipal Electricity Supply Co. and was soon in charge of the sub station which supplied the tramway. He progressed to a Distribution Engineer and was finally responsible for all construction, maintenance and supply for the company’s whole network. 


In 1945 he joined the English Electric Company in Stafford as a Switchgear Engineer, specialising in trouble shooting and when the Electricity Distribution network was nationalised in 1948 he moved to Kingston on Thames where he joined the Central Electricity Generating Board as a Development Engineer, involved in the design of all new power stations, including nuclear and also became a Fellow of the Electrical Engineers.

He retired in 1976 and moved to Devon in 1983, firstly to Honiton where he played tennis and bowls, (his wife to a national  standard) and then in 1985 to Sidmouth.  He now paints and is a keen photographer.

He joined Sidmouth lifeboat after seeing an article asking for volunteers and was, among the first to join the Support Team, nearly 15 years ago. 


As part of Alan’s 100th birthday celebrations he was driven to Sidmouth Lifeboat boathouse in the “Toast Rack” and taken out on the lifeboat on Saturday. While at sea Alan waved to the crowd of family, friends and colleagues from the Lifeboat. In deference to Alan’s age the speed was kept to a conservative 10 knots, but by the look on his face Alan still really enjoyed the occasion! Happy Birthday, and many thanks for your had work and commitment, from all of us at the Lifeboat!

100-year-old joins Sidmouth Lifeboat crew – Sidmouth Herald


21st April 2011

Generous patrons of the Diggers Rest in Woodbury Salterton helped raise the sterling sum as part of a weekly collection for local causes.

£540.00 Sidmouth Lifeboat boost. Sidmouth Herald, April 21st 2011 


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