After some 15 years in charge, Steve Simmonds retired as the Coxswain at Bembridge RNLI last weekend making way for his successor, local crew member Guy Willing.
Guy moved to the Island in 1974 when his father, who was in the Navy, was posted to Portsmouth. He went to Bembridge Primary then Bembridge Middle School, followed by Sandown High School.
For 5 years Guys served in the Royal Engineers and undertook tours to the Falklands, Belize, Germany, Denmark and Cyprus. He then worked for Southern Electric for 10 years before changing careers to work for Associated British Ports (ABP), initially as a 2nd Coxswain, then subsequently as a Marine Officer (Pilotage). In his role with ABP, he has steamed, on average, 10,000 to 15,000 miles per annum to service approximately 1,000 ships in all weather conditions.
Guy first became involved with Bembridge RNLI in 1977 at the age of 10 when a friend’s father was the then 2nd Coxswain Mechanic; his key responsibility – cleaning the brass on the Solent Class Lifeboat ‘Jack Shayler and the Lees’.
The now-Coxswain first joined Bembridge RNLI as a volunteer crewman on the D-class Inshore Lifeboat and the Tyne-class All-Weather Lifeboat from 1994 to 1998. After 10 years away he rejoined as a crewman in 2008 and developed his skills including becoming an Assistant Mechanic. He has been involved in over 150 rescues as a volunteer with Bembridge RNLI.
Guy’s main interests centre around sailing. He has owned several different yachts and currently owns a Nicholson 31, which he sails mainly single handed. In 2016, he sailed in the Jester Challenge to Baltimore Ireland via the Scillies and Fastnet rock from Plymouth and returned, without stopping, to Cowes. He regularly sails to France, the Channel Islands and the West Country. He enjoys cycling and regularly commutes to work, covering approx. 60 miles per week. Guy is married and he has 3 daughters.
Speaking about his appointment, Willing has said:
“Becoming the Coxswain of Bembridge Lifeboat has been a life time ambition and I look forward to working with Bryan Jones, our Lifeboat Mechanic and all the volunteer members of our great team at Bembridge to continue our mission of saving lives at sea that stretches back 151 years”.
Steve Simmonds started his link with the RNLI back in 1987 as a boat builder at the Inshore Lifeboat Centre in East Cowes; he joined the Bembridge crew in 1996 and took over as the Coxswain of Bembridge Lifeboat in 2003.
Steve has said of his future:
“I am much looking forward to being able to spend time fishing and enjoying seeing more of the UK with my wife Lyn and our dog Milly in our motorhome. I will look back at my service with the RNLI with great pride and I know that Guy will be an excellent Coxswain – I have after all helped train him for the role!”