Tributes paid to ‘one of the best’: former Newhaven coxswain dies

Tributes have been paid to former Newhaven lifeboat coxswain Len Patten who died on Sunday (January 11).

Len joined Newhaven lifeboat in 1968 as a signalman having previously been an auxiliary coastguard at Newhaven.

He served as coxswain/mechanic from 1977 until he retired in 1988.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal in 1988.

Len received a framed letter of thanks signed by the chairman of the RNLI for his actions on October 16 1987 when the crew of a French trawler were saved in the aftermath of the Great Storm.

As a mark of respect the flag at the Newhaven lifeboat station was lowered to half-mast and after their Sunday morning training exercise the crew took a few minutes of reflection to recognise Len’s passing.

A spokesman for the lifeboat crews said thoughts were with Len’s family and friends at this sad time.

Paul Legendre, the current coxswain at Newhaven said: “Having been crew under Len, I know what a professional and highly respected coxswain he was. It was an honour to have served with him.”

Commander Michael Woodroffe, who was an RNLI Divisional Inspector in the South East between 1975 and 1982, paid tribute to Len.

He said: “Coxswain/mechanic Len Patten was a first class lifeboat coxswain, a wonderful ambassador for the RNLI and a gentleman of the old school. I had the honour and privilege to be his Inspector of Lifeboats for seven years.

“Summing Len up I would say, they don’t make many like him any more – he was one of the best.”