A LIFEBOAT volunteer has handed in his pager and wellies after more than 50 years of service.

Peter Huxtable MBE has saved hundreds of lives during his 51 years at Shoreham RNLI Lifeboat Station.

The 69-year-old, who grew up in Shoreham, began working as a fisherman and was soon asked to join the lifeboat crew.

He served on both the all weather and inshore lifeboats, and in 1991 became the coxswain of the Shoreham lifeboat.

The Argus: Peter Huxtable MBE. Photos: RNLIPeter Huxtable MBE. Photos: RNLI

It makes him the the second longest serving coxswain in the history of the station, and in 2005 he was awarded an MBE for services to the RNLI.

He has saved 449 lives during his time as a volunteer, including helping to rescue the crew on the stricken Athina B Greek vessel off Brighton in 1980, and two crew on board the yacht Trimley Maid, which was in trouble in gale force nine winds off the coast in June 1999.

Peter was awarded awarded two RNLI vellums for these rescue missions.

He said: “Volunteering with the RNLI has been a huge part of my life. I have served 51 years and it was an immense honour and privilege.

"I have some amazing memories from over the years and have served with dedicated and great volunteers.

"I couldn’t have done any of it, particular my role as coxswain without the support of the lifeboat crew and my family. It is a team effort.”

Peter also worked tirelessly for three years to raise money and promote the £1 million community appeal to help build a new lifeboat station at Shoreham.

The Argus: Photos: RNLIPhotos: RNLI

He even took to the skies to publicise the appeal and wing walked his way into the record books by becoming the first-ever RNLI coxswain to attempt the daring act in 2008.

The biplane he was standing on flew directly over the lifeboat station at Shoreham, giving him a bird’s eye view of it and the seas he has navigated while rescuing those in trouble.

On his last official day of service, the crew organised a final launch of the lifeboat and a surprise where he was winched off by the Solent Coastguard helicopter and put on the Newhaven lifeboat.

Peter is even immortalised as a statuette on Shoreham Beach at the foot of the Adur Ferry Bridge across the river.

He added: “I will always miss it, particularly when the adrenaline kicks in and you know you’ve been able to help someone in trouble.”