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Tributes paid to brave lifeboat veteran from Weymouth
TRIBUTES have been paid to a lifeboat veteran whose years of bravery saw lives saved at sea.
Derek Sargent MBE, from Weymouth, passed away on Wednesday following a battle with long-term illness.
He has been described as a ‘legend’ by Weymouth RNLI volunteers.
John Harvey, lifeboat operation manager, said: “Derek was a popular character not only around the waterfront, but also at the Devenish Brewery where he was an engineer for many years.
“His cheerful professionalism saved many a life when out on lifeboat service and his dedication to saving lives at sea was very well known in the RNLI headquarters.
“He was always good company with a ready fund of salty stories and his popularity and easy style will be very sadly missed.”
Derek served at Weymouth lifeboat station from 1967, when he joined as a crew member, until finally leaving the service in 2002 at the age of 70.
The team at Weymouth RNLI believe that Derek was the only person in the history of the RNLI who held every operational post within a lifeboat station.
His daughter Nicola Baker said: “I was proud of him and what he did on the lifeboats. He was also the chairman of the Weymouth Sea Cadets.
“He played cribbage and was well known in the town. Throughout his illness he kept positive. I will greatly miss him.”
During Derek’s time as a lifeboat coxswain, he received a bronze medal for rescuing five people from the catamaran Sunbeam Chaser in heavy breaking seas off Portland in October, 1987.
In the official report of the incident Lieutenant John Unwin, divisional inspector of lifeboats for the south west, said: “Coxswain mechanic Derek Sargent showed outstanding boat handling, leadership in extremely difficult conditions and calm perseverance throughout the service.”
Derek became assistant mechanic from 1969 until 1971 and progressed to mechanic, second coxswain mechanic and coxswain mechanic.
He retired from the crew in 1989 when he became a voluntary deputy launching authority.
The 80-year-old, who received an MBE in the 2003 New Year’s Honours List, was the Weymouth station’s honorary secretary from 1997-2002.
He won recognition for his part in the rescue of the Latifa in 1976 when the official report of the incident quoted ‘hurricane-force winds and phenomenal seas’.
His comment on the conditions afterwards is station legend.
“We were only talking about a gale, it wasn’t anything serious,” he said.