Happisburgh lifeboat volunteer receives RNLI Cenotaph honour

Cubitt Siely, a volunteer crew member at Happpisburgh lifeboat station.

Cubitt Siely, a volunteer crew member at Happpisburgh lifeboat station. - Credit: Submitted

A life-saving volunteer from north Norfolk is preparing to represent the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in the National Service of Remembrance, held at The Cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday - the first time in history the charity has been officially represented.

Cubitt Siely, 54, who has been a volunteer crew member at Happisburgh for 38 years and is one of the longest serving inshore lifeboat crew in the RNLI.

He is one of only 19 people from across the UK and Ireland chosen to represent the charity, which saves lives at sea, at the service which is organised by the Government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport to remember those who gave their lives for their country in conflicts around the world.

Although thousands of RNLI volunteers have publicly attended Remembrance Sunday events throughout history, this is the first time the RNLI has been formally invited to take part in the service and parade, joining 48 other organisations and associations who will also be officially represented.

The RNLI played its own role in the famed Dunkirk 'little ships' evacuation in 1940. Some 20 RNLI lifeboats were among the 700 private boats that sailed from Ramsgate to Dunkirk between May 26 and June 4 that year as part of Operation Dynamo, helping to rescue more than 338,000 British and French soldiers who were trapped on the beaches at Dunkirk during the Second World War.

Paul Boissier, Chief Executive of the RNLI, said to be invited to formally take part on Remembrance Sunday was both an honour and a privilege: 'Like so many other associations, the RNLI played its part in the two World Wars. Apart from the many volunteers who went off to fight, many lifeboats joined the flotilla of Little Ships to pull off the audacious evacuation in 1940.

'It fills me with immense pride that we will be formally represented in the Cenotaph service as part of the annual commemoration. This is the first time in history the RNLI will be represented and I know that on the day our volunteers thoughts will be with the many millions who gave their own lives so that today we can enjoy the freedom we have.'

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Mr Siely has lived in Happisburgh all his life, joining the crew as soon as he could; he has been crew, helmsman and senior helmsman as well as training coordinator at Happisburgh.

Both his daughter and son are now both on the stations crew. He has already represented the RNLI at the Queen's garden party and been part of the colour party for the RNLI standard at the Annual National Service for Seafarers at St Paul's Cathedral in London. Mr Siely added: 'This a great honour for me and the station.'