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Lifeboat volunteer honoured for Dylan Alkins search in dangerous storms in Newhaven
A man who led the RNLI search for a missing teenager will receive one of the charity's highest accolades.
Coxswain Paul Legendre and his crew searched for Dylan Alkins, 14, for six hours in storm force winds after the teenager was swept away at West Beach in Newhaven, East Sussex, on October 27.
Dylan, a football fan who had recently left Tideway School, Newhaven, has never been found.
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RNLI operations director George Rawlinson said: “It is with a mixture of sadness and pride that I nominate Paul for the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum.
“I know first-hand how much he was affected by this incident and am confident he did everything humanly possible to lead his crew in searching for Dylan that day.”
The Severn class all-weather lifeboat Volunteer Spirit was launched at 4.25pm after Dylan was swept out to sea.
Once outside the harbour Mr Legendre attempted to hold the lifeboat in position in poor visibility and “atrocious” conditions.
Waves rebounding from the western breakwater broke over the stern and pushed water into the engine room.
A section of handrail was torn from the back of the lifeboat and Mr Legendre and his seven volunteer crew members, attached with safety lines, were knocked off their feet.
In the early stages of the search while there was still daylight, a member of the public reported a person in the sea near the lifeboat. Unfortunately neither the lifeboat nor the helicopter crew were able to see anyone in the water.
The search was expanded to inside and outside of the eastern and western breakwater and east toward Seaford Head, but despite the help of a Coastguard rescue helicopter and search teams from Newhaven, Birling Gap and Shoreham, the operation was called off at around 9.45pm in “ever dangerous seas”.
Mr Legendre was a volunteer with Newhaven RNLI for more than 30 years before becoming a full-time coxswain two years ago.
Spokesman for Newhaven RNLI Alan Novis said: “Everyone associated with the station is delighted that Paul has been recognised, not least for his efforts on the day but also for his 33-year service to the RNLI.”
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