The coxswain of Newhaven Lifeboat will be recognised with one of the RNLI’s highest accolades for his role in the search for Dylan Alkins.
Paul Legendre’s skill and bravery were praised following the six hour search for the 14-year-old who disappeared from West Beach in Newhaven during atrocious sea conditions.
He will be presented with the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum for the part he played in the rescue attempt on October 27, 2013.
RNLI operations director George Rawlinson said: “To launch into such atrocious conditions with darkness approaching takes great skill and courage.
“The seamanship Paul displayed during this service was second to none and the concentration required to hold the lifeboat in position in shallow waters and breaking waves was intense.
“This shows the dedication, bravery and teamwork demanded of a lifeboat crew working in extremely challenging conditions to try to save a life and I’d like to thank Paul and his crew for their efforts to find Dylan.”
Amidst terrible sea conditions and storm force 10 gales, Paul led his volunteer crew during an extensive search from the shoreline to the open sea.
Conditions were made more challenging by waves rebounding from the nearby breakwater and breaking over the lifeboat.
This pushed water into the engine room and forced the crew to rely on safety lines as they were knocked from their feet.
Dramatic video footage and photographs taken from the beach showed the lifeboat pitching and rolling in turbulent conditions.
Such was the ferocity of the sea, one wave tore the handrails off the lifeboat, forcing Paul to briefly seek shelter in the harbour to assess the damage and check on his crew.
Less than 25 minutes later they returned to the open sea to continue searching in the failing light.
The crew were eventually stood down at 9.45pm and got back to Lifeboat Station at West Quay after six hours at sea and an extensive search of the area.
Dylan was not found by the lifeboat crew or the Coastguard shore teams and search and rescue helicopter. He is still missing.
George added: “It is with a mixture of sadness and pride that I nominate Paul for the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum. “I know first-hand how much he was affected by this incident and am confident he did everything humanly possible to lead his crew in searching for Dylan that day.”