Meet the family saving lives on the region’s coastline for 135 years

Descendants of the Britton family, who have been serving for the RNLI Walton and Frinton since the s

Descendants of the Britton family, who have been serving for the RNLI Walton and Frinton since the station opened in 1884 Picture: RNLI/JIM RICE - Credit: RNLI/JIM RICE

A family who have served at a local lifeboat station for a whopping 135 years has said they are ready to continue their life-saving role if needed this Christmas.

Henry Britton, who served as the first coxswain at the station in Essex when it first opened Pictur

Henry Britton, who served as the first coxswain at the station in Essex when it first opened Picture: RNLI/JIM RICE - Credit: RNLI/JIM RICE

For descendants of the Britton family - now in its sixth generation - Christmas isn't just a time for giving and sharing time with the family. Instead, it is another day on the job ready to save lives.

The family has volunteered at RNLI Walton and Frinton since it first opened in 1884 - and they were even called out that year to their very first Christmas on the job.

Henry Britton, the station's first coxswain, was called to rescue a crew of 25 aboard a Dutch cargo ship which had run aground at Long Sand.

Now, Mr Britton's great-great-great-grandchildren Simon Berry, Miranda Rayner and Tony Richardson keep the family tradition alive - with one space at the dinner table sat closest to the door in the case of an emergency call out.


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Simon and Miranda's father, Jim Berry, who served as a volunteer from 1958 to 1997, said: "Should you get the call, you want to be there as fast as possible.

"There's no use being at the far end of the table, so, where's the nearest exit? I'm going to put my chair there to get out the door first!

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"When I started, my wife's cousin Keith Richardson was on the crew, his grandfather was on the crew, and his uncle was the head launcher. So when the Maroon was fired, there were four of us trying to get out of the door."

Last year, RNLI volunteers in the east of England experienced their joint-busiest festive period since records began, with 19 lifeboats launched - compared to just two in 1979.

The organisation say they are facing a "perfect storm" with more people drowning and a shortfall of funding nationwide - prompting their own call for help.

Trevor Halls, coxswain at the station and who also has family connections, said: "We don't think anything of being on call at Christmas - it's what we do and what we're trained for.

"Christmas is just like any other day for our volunteer crew, if someone needs our help, it really doesn't matter what day of the year it is."

Those wishing to support the RNLI's Perfect Storm Appeal should visit their website.

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