A Coastguard Rescue Officer who risked his life in a bid to rescue a young woman has been given the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for Exemplary Bravery.

Ian Bugler, who has been a volunteer for St Albans Head Coastguard Rescue Team for 25 years, was honoured for his attempt to rescue a woman who was trapped in water off Tilly Whim caves in November 2013. 

The woman was trapped in the cave and with worsening weather conditions, and the only option was to lower someone through a blowhole above it. 

Risking his own life, Ian had to take off most of his safety equipment and waterproof clothing to fit through the hole and was blown back out of the hole several times because of the updraft caused by the sea, as well as being smashed into the sides and roof of the cave.

Sadly it became clear that the young woman had died in the cave and Ian had to be pulled back up because he was also at risk.

Ian, who is a Deputy Station Officer, said: “I’m honoured to receive this award which I feel I am receiving on behalf of all my colleagues out on the coast. We will always respond to the call for help, but we don’t always know what we’re going to. My father who was Station Officer had to watch while I went down into the blowhole not knowing if I would come out again. Although it’s an honour to receive this award, it’s tinged with sadness that we weren’t able to rescue the woman that day. It’s a reminder that the coast can be a dangerous place and why we need as coastguards to always be ready to respond when someone calls 999 and asks for help.”

Sir Alan Massey, CEO of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said: “This is a prestigious honour for a Coastguard to receive and I am immensely proud that Ian has been recognised in this way. Without a second thought for his own safety, he selflessly tried to save another’s life. This Gallantry Medal is extremely well deserved and Her Majesty’s Coastguard is very lucky to have such a dedicated officer volunteering with them. He is an inspiration to us all.”

An ex-army officer and a conservation expert are also among the Dorset residents being honoured. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Harris East is awarded an MBE for services to charity and the community in Dorchester

Lt Col East, from Dorchester, is the chairman of The Dorset Army Benevolent Fund (The Soldier’s Charity) and has organised many fundraising events for the charity across the county. 

The Soldier’s Charity was set up in 1944 to support serving soldiers, veterans and their families. 

Dr Geoff Hawtin, 68, from Portesham, is awarded an OBE for services to Global Agrobiodiversity Conservation, Subsistence Livelihood Enhancement and Sustainable Food Programmes. 

He was formerly a member of the board of trustees for Kew Gardens and a senior technical advisor for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources. 

Dr Hawtin was also director general of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, now Bioversity International, for 12 years and CEO of Global Crop Diversity Trust from 2003 to 2005.