Former Coxswain of Swanage Lifeboat honoured with MBE for saving lives at sea
The former coxswain of the Swanage Lifeboat has been awarded with an MBE by Buckingham Palace in recognition of almost forty years of saving lives at sea.
Martin Steeden, who spent the last sixteen years of his service as volunteer coxswain of the station’s all-weather lifeboat, said it was a ‘massive privilege’ to be named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Martin, who spent some time as a lifeguard in his teens, joined the crew in 1977 after he moved to Swanage: ‘I married the coxswain’s daughter, I was living in their house and lifeboats were their life, the whole family were in the crew so I found it was a natural thing to do,’ said Martin, who is a carpenter by trade.
Martin first joined the crew as a launcher, helping to get the lifeboat to sea and served alongside his father-in-law Victor Marsh and his wife Karina’s brother, Ian. It was five years before he served on the boat.
‘You came along and made the tea first, then you’d be on the slipway and you worked through the system,’ remembered Martin. When he first started at the station the crew was still alerted to a shout by the firing of maroon flares, rather than the pager system used today.
‘It was phenomenal. I didn’t come to this from a local background, I grew up in London. It was exciting with the maroons going up - it all happens at a lifeboat station!’ he explained.
Over the years Martin moved up through the ranks, becoming winchman, head-launcher and then eventually he served on the boat. He became coxswain in 2000. During his time with the Swanage lifeboat he has seen his two sons Gavin and Matthew join the crew. Gavin is now assistant coxswain while Matthew is assistant mechanic.
‘It was great, in the days before I retired I could go to sea with my kids - your life revolved around it and the longer you stayed the farther you moved up through the positions on the lifeboat’.