Selsey Lifeboat Station - News

Nigel Osbourn 27th March 1954 - 26th December 2014

(Tribute by John Light, former Branch Chairman, Selsey Lifeboat Station, read at Nigel's funeral)

"Nigel joined the Selsey Lifeboat crew in 1979 and served on both the inshore and the all-weather boats 'Charles Henry' and 'City of London'. In January 1989 he became assistant winchman and in September 1996 he became assistant mechanic. His service on Selsey Lifeboat spanned 21 years and 5 months.

On the night of October 5th 1983, in a force 6, south westerly wind and heavy seas, Nigel was part of a three-man crew which went to the aid of the 54-foot Motor cruiser 'Joan Maureen' which was breaking up. Battling through heavy seas, the ILB D-277 arrived on scene and was immediately hit by huge waves and was in grave danger of capsizing. As the ILB filled with water, Nigel threw himself aft to try and hold the ILB down with his weight. Helmsman Dave Monday quickly drove the ILB hard up against the side of the casualty and Tony Delahunty jumped aboard the motor cruiser, taking a line with him. He told the three young men on board to jump down into the ILB while the other two Lifeboat men tried desperately to hold the ILB alongside by grabbing hold of the casualty's stanchions. In the violent seas, the stanchions snapped off one by one, so Nigel grabbed hold of one of the young men and pulled him aboard the ILB, his two companions quickly following. Tony Delahunty returned to the ILB and the helmsman brought her clear and headed slowly back towards Selsey. Framed letters of thanks signed by the then chairman of the RNLI, his Grace the Duke of Atholl, were presented to Nigel and Tony. Helmsman Dave Monday was awarded a bronze medal.

These three Lifeboat men later received the 'Ralph Glister Award' for the most outstanding service during 1983, by the crew of a Lifeboat under ten-metres in length.

On 26th May 1999, Nigel and some of his colleagues from Selsey Lifeboat were invited to the Guildhall in London and awarded the Freedom of the City. He received his long-service certificate from the then president of Selsey Lifeboat station, Vice Admiral Sir Peter Buchannan. Nigel was a dedicated Lifeboat man, keeping within the tradition of the RNLI saving lives at sea.

There are of course many stories I could tell about Nigel during his Lifeboat service. Some a little too colourful to tell today, but on one long service shout, slowing towing the casualty in rough seas, he offered to make a hot drink for the crew. One wanted tea no sugar, two asked for tea with two sugars, one asked for coffee, two wanted soup with croutons and one crew member asked for hot chocolate. He placed seven plastic cups on a tray and added the various packeted ingredients. Just as the water was about to boil, a large wave hit the Lifeboat side on and she rolled violently to starboard, tipping over the cups and spilling most of the contents. Not to be outdone, Nigel scooped up the spillage and divided it among the seven cups. The crew were astonished to receive hot chocolate with croutons and tomato flavoured tea.

Nigel loved Cornwall. For him it was the north coast and 'Aggie' St. Agnes. For me it was the south coast and Falmouth. We often swapped stories and visited each other's local pubs. We both shared a love of cider and after the demise of Red Rock, we found the Cornish orchards and cider farm at Penhallow, with its 'Rattler' cider. From then on and on each visit, we bought supplies back for many of the friends here today.

He didn't have a lot of luck with his cars. On many occasions, he broke down on his way to Cornwall or on his journey back. He and Vicki either limped home or left the car and returned by train. I remember one occasion when I was flying back into Heathrow from New Zealand, that Nigel and Jem told Jean not to get up early as they would pick me up at 6.00am in the morning. They got as far as Hunston when his car overheated and yes, Vicki, I also know what it's like to come home on the train.

He fished with Satt, Jem and Keith. He appeared on TVís 'Country Ways', worked on Selsey sea defences and went to Denmark with Delmar to show the Danish fishermen how to make pots during the herring ban and latterly, he was in the painting and decorating business with Dave.

Nigel was a proud man.

As a son he was so proud of you Ros and your achievement with the Selsey photographic club, when you became president.

As a father, he was so proud of his children Simon and Stephanie and grandchildren.

As a partner, he was proud of the 30 years you spent together Vicki.

As a friend to so many of us. We will miss him especially on Sundays in the Lifeboat Inn, when we would try to put the world to right.

But he will be remembered on each Boxing Day henceforth, when we drink a pint of Rattler and call it Nigelís Day."