Dave Corben retires from Swanage RNLI after 50 years of volunteering

Well known Swanage resident and local estate agent, Dave Corben has announced his retirement from the RNLI, calling it an “honour and privilege” to have spent half a century working as a volunteer.

Dave first joined the Swanage RNLI in 1970 as a member of the crew of the all-weather lifeboat and as a shore helper, going on in 1985 to become an emergency mechanic and then in 2003 as a navigator.

In 2005 at the age of 55, he retired from serving as a member of the lifeboat crew and took on instead, the shore-based role of a deputy launch authority (DLA). The on duty DLA receives the initial call from HM Coastguard and makes the initial launch request for the crew.

Dave Corben, alongside his brother John Corben with HRH the Duke of Kent
Swanage RNLI

Dave Corben, alongside his brother John Corben with HRH the Duke of Kent

Many peaks and troughs

As an estate agent, Dave has experienced many peaks and troughs, but none compare to some of the dangerous rescues amid the rolling waves of the English Channel.

In 1989 he was honoured with a Vellum Service Certificate for the rescue to the Ro-Ro ferry ‘Al Kwather’ in severe weather and seven years later he was awarded a Medal Service Certificate for the rescue of the crew of the yacht ‘Be Happy’ in hurricane force winds on the night of 28 October, 1996.

Lifeboat crew outside the old Swanage Lifeboat Station
Swanage RNLI

Lifeboat crew outside the old Swanage Lifeboat Station with Dave Corben standing on the far left of the picture

“The yacht’s engine had failed, its sails had been blown out”

Recalling the ‘Be Happy’ rescue, Dave said:

“They were 20 miles out into the English Channel in 130-mile per hour winds. The yacht’s engine had failed, its sails had been blown out. The yacht had been knocked down a number of times and was in real danger of capsizing in the 30 ft high waves. The helicopter could not lift them because their mast was swinging so violently.”

Despite the horrendous conditions that night, the Swanage Lifeboat crew successfully rescued the crew aboard the ‘Be Happy’.

Dave Corben in his favourite seat on the lifeboat, the Navigator seat.
Swanage RNLI

“Grateful for Dave’s dedication and the wealth of knowledge”

Swanage Lifeboat coxswain, Dave Turnbull said

“Dave is one of very few RNLI volunteers to serve for 50 years. These days, life often gets in the way and people’s situations change, in particular with where they work, meaning that it is not always possible to commit as a volunteer for a lifetime as Dave has done.

“Dave went to sea with my father, Malcolm Turnbull and I am fortunate to have been to sea with Dave many times as fellow crew and to have worked with Dave since I have been coxswain of the Swanage Lifeboat and he has been DLA. Having a former, long standing, sea going crew member as a DLA has great benefits for the crew, as they have first-hand experience of all aspects of what a rescue may entail.

“I am very grateful for Dave’s dedication and the wealth of knowledge Dave has accumulated and passed on over the years.”

In 2016 Dave was presented with the RNLI Gold Badge for long service and although he is not from a maritime background, he is from a lifeboat family.

His brother, John served 23 years on the crew and their father Eddie was Chairman of the Branch and served in the role of Deputy Launch Authority. Now Dave’s son Anthony, has followed in his father’s footsteps as a volunteer lifeboat crew member.

Lifeboat crew alongside the RNLI J Reginal Corah
Swanage RNLI

“Honour and privilege to serve over the last 50 years”

Having retired from Swanage RNLI, Dave, in his parting words to the current crew he said:

‘It has been an honour and privilege to serve over the last 50 years and I haven’t a clue what I am going to do when my pager is taken away!’.

Chris Haw, Charles Buckle and Dave Corben presented with awards at Swanage lifeboat week
Swanage RNLI

Chris Haw, Charles Buckle and Dave Corben (far right) presented with awards at Swanage Lifeboat Week

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