Max Gilligan was first involved with the Selsey lifeboat as a ten-year-old, when the 46ft Watson class lifeboat Canadian Pacific was on station.
He was often found racing down to the station to watch and help out when the maroons were fired, helping to open up the boathouse doors, helping with the recovery of the anchors used for rehousing and maintaining the brass fixtures and fittings on the boat – as he says, ‘it was his thing’.
Max would accompany the boat crew out on the Canadian Pacific to the then-manned Owers Light Vessel at Christmas to deliver their turkey.
He joined the crew in 1983, aged 27, and quickly became a valued member of the team.
Colleagues have described Max as a steadfast, reliable crew mate, who was always at the forefront of the crew, and one of the first to volunteer or be chosen for all tasks.
In his years on the crew he built up an impressive collection and history of the station, including an uninterrupted record of all shouts and services since he joined in 1983.
Max, the unofficial station photographer, was instrumental in ensuring the volunteer crew had a means of recording what they did by making sure that a camera was placed on the boat for recording purposes.
Since the advent of digital camera and the trusty helmet camera, he has become even more vocal in ensuring that the crew take the cameras to show what the organisation does.
Max received the Freedom of the City of London after 20 years’ service and has just been given an Excellence in Volunteering award by the RNLI for his assistance in the latest series of Saving Lives at Sea, which aired on the BBC.
Max will continue as Selsey Lifeboat Station’s press officer, a role he has been taken on alongside his crew role since 2014.
Tony Delahunty, lifeboat operations manager at Selsey Lifeboat Station, said: “On behalf of myself, the crew and the RNLI, I would like to thank Max for his 38 years at sea, as part of the Selsey RNLI lifeboat crew.
“I would also like to acknowledge the level of commitment and dedication required to serve for this length of time.
“His presence at sea will be missed, but I am delighted that Max will continue as press officer – his reports and media work both locally and nationally have raised the profile of the station.”
Max was involved in numerous rescues over the years, including a rough and taxing shout to the 36ft yacht Shropshire Lady, which was 28 miles south of Selsey, resulting in a tow of nearly ten hours.
Another call in May 2007 was to the yacht Pakaa, which was 19 miles south-west of Selsey in rough seas, with force 9-10 south-westerly winds and torrential rain, resulted in the lifeboat being out for 12 hours.
And in October 2008 he helped with the rescue of Rhiannon, a 12-metre converted pilot cutter which had suffered a fouled rudder and was taking on water 15 miles south of Selsey in force 9-10 south-westerly winds and very rough seas, which led to a 28-mile tow to Shoreham Harbour.
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