Olly Clarke, from Angmering, had to be signed up by his mum as he was only 17 when he joined. He served alongside his brother, Liam Clarke, who volunteered with Littlehampton RNLI for 18 years.
Olly joined as trainee crew after seeing what his great uncle, George Barnes, achieved as crew on Littlehampton RNLI’s original Blue Peter I lifeboat when it arrived in 1967 and as a boatbuilder at William Osbourne in Littlehampton, working on lifeboats.
Olly said: "When I first joined Littlehampton RNLI, my mum had to come down and sign the forms as I wasn’t deemed old enough to sign myself until I was 18 years old! My first shout was to rescue a dog from the River Arun. Peter Knight, who was senior helm, stood down a crew member to take me as a trainee."
He has been a hugely popular and fun personality at the lifeboat station but he is stepping down to spend more time with his family.
Olly has been involved in countless shouts. During his time as crew, he has been airlifted from the lifeboat on to HM Coastguard’s former helicopter India Juliet during a training demonstration, walked 26 miles across London in full RNLI crew kit to raise vital funds for the charity, and arranged many social events for the lifeboat station.
He said: "I have loved every minute. Littlehampton RNLI is made up of some incredible men and women from so many different backgrounds. Everyone is here to represent the RNLI. However, they do this while loving what they do, and having a laugh along the way.
"For anyone considering volunteering at Littlehampton RNLI, I would say, do it! I came in at 17 with no boat experience and I learned so much."
Olly, who is head of stage and automation at Sadler’s Wells in London, was recently presented his 20-year service medal by Littlehampton RNLI chair Mike McCartain and Lifeboat operations manager Nick White.
Nick said: "Olly has been a great asset to the station over the years, focused on the job and fun as well. His recognition for 20 years as lifeboat crew is much deserved. RNLI operational roles demand a lot of our time and it’s sad but right that he has the time that he needs to spend with his wife and daughter. We’ll miss him."