A man who used to race down to the lifeboat station to help our with rescues when he was ten years old is celebrating 40 years of life saving.

Max Gilligan, from Selsey, joined the crew of volunteers at the lifeboat station 17 years later, in 1983.

For the next 38 years, until he was 65, Max volunteered on the station’s inshore and all-weather lifeboats.

The Argus: Max before he retired from the crew after 38 yearsMax before he retired from the crew after 38 years (Image: RNLI)


Max said: “During the Sixties I spent most of my school holidays down on the beach, mainly in the lifeboat station, if there were jobs to do, I’d do them.

“I especially remember cleaning the brass alongside the mechanic Ron Wells, as the old boats had loads.

“All I ever wanted was a guernsey sweater with RNLI across the chest, but I was told it was only for crew.

“So, my reward was trips out on the lifeboat on courtesy visits and the Owers light ship.

“In 1969 I even got to go to Littlehampton to pick up the new lifeboat Charles Henry ON 1015, but we never got there as we were called to a yacht in trouble off the Bill and ended up towing it to Chichester Harbour.

“I eventually got my sweater and went on to proudly serve on the crew for 38 years with some truly memorable times with some great fellow crewmembers.”

In 2021, Max hung up his wellies as a member of the on-board team.

But he was determined to continue volunteering for the charity and began helping launch the lifeboats as a deputy launch authority and remained as the station’s lifeboat press officer  - a role he began in 2014 - publicising the crew’s call-outs and stories.

Max recently marked 40 years of volunteering for the RNLI and was awarded with a long service medal by the station’s lifeboat operations manager Tony Delahunty.

The Argus: Tony presenting Max with his long service awardTony presenting Max with his long service award (Image: RNLI)

Tony said: “Max has an incredible record of service for Selsey, not only as a crew member on a variety of lifeboats, but also in his role as DLA and as the station’s press officer.

“As far back as I can remember he was always taking photos for the station and has had a massive impact working with both local and national media. He has also embraced all the social media channels with his usual enthusiasm.”

Max has also received the Freedom of the City of London for his service to Selsey RNLI.

He has been involved in numerous rescues over the years, including some of the most notable, such as that of the 36ft yacht Shropshire Lady, which was 28 miles south of Selsey, a rough and taxing shout resulting in a tow of nearly ten hours.