Coxswain follwing in father's footsteps

A LIFEBOATMAN at Aldeburgh has become the youngest serving coxswain in the RNLI.Lee Firman, 25, has followed in his father's footsteps by being appointed to the role at Aldeburgh lifeboat station.

A LIFEBOATMAN at Aldeburgh has become the youngest serving coxswain in the RNLI.

Lee Firman, 25, has followed in his father's footsteps by being appointed to the role at Aldeburgh lifeboat station.

Before that, he was second coxswain to his father, who has now been promoted to coxswain at Humber, a larger station.

Serving on the crew is Lee's father's new wife, Alison, whom he wed last month at Thorpeness, with a blessing at the lifeboat station.

Father-of-three Lee, a fourth generation lifeboatman, hopes his two-year-old son may one day follow in his footsteps.

"He follows me everywhere on board the boat and on the tractor, so who knows? He's only two at the moment but he's full on for it," he said.

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Lee is not only a very young coxswain, he is also the youngest serving Aldeburgh town councillor.

His crew members at the station range in age from 20 to 50, but Lee has no problems with discipline, he says.

"They have voted me in as coxswain so they know any decision I make they follow," he said.

"It's a lot of responsibility. Not only am I taking a crew to sea, but they are all friends. It's a small town.

"I have been a crew member for nine years now. I have done lots of service calls, lots of service calls by myself in the last three years, some interesting ones, some difficult ones and I have been on a hell of a lot with the old man, including one of the bronze medal jobs. I have seen weather from flat calm right up to the top of the scale."

He felt his father was pleased about the news of his promotion.

"I think he's quite pleased really. I'm the fourth generation in my family now lifeboatman, second generation coxswain. He's pleased."

But although there were similarities, he felt his leadership style was different to his father's.

"I'm my own man. I do lead the boat differently to what he did."

It is very difficult to work out how Lee's age stands compared with previous generations because of the way records were kept before computerisation, but the tradition was to appoint the longest serving lifeboatman to the role.

"You never made coxswain until you were sixty, fifty years ago," Lee pointed out.

The organisation's service information records section was looking back to see if they could find a younger coxswain, he said.

nAn annual open day at Aldeburgh lifeboat station held on July 26 and 27 raised £556 for the RNLI. The station asked to thank all those who had participated in the event.

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