Porthcawl RNLI volunteer Philip L Missen MBE is stepping down from the role of Lifeboat Operations Manager at Porthcawl having joined the RNLI as a volunteer on 19 April 1974 at 20 years of age.

In those days training was conducted at the lifeboat station with more experienced crew demonstrating lifeboat skills to any new crew member. Philip soon became a competent crew member and often took the helm role during exercises and on callouts.

During the early 90’s it was becoming evident the ‘D’ class lifeboat and the boathouse were very much in need of updating and with the growing number of callouts there became a need for a larger inshore lifeboat on station. Philip along with two other crew members argued the case for this need with the RNLI and in 1996 the boathouse we use today was opened to house the charity’s brand new larger inshore lifeboat, Atlantic 75 B726 Giles.

In 1998 the Honorary Secretary, John Williams was due to retire and Philip along with others applied for the position. Philip was successful and became Honorary Secretary on 1 May 1998; then in June 1998 he was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to the RNLI.

This year (2024) marks Philip’s 50th year with Porthcawl lifeboat and almost 26 years as Honorary Secretary, a role now known as Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM). To put this in some perspective as the RNLI celebrates it’s 200th anniversary this year, Philip has served for 25% of the charity’s existence!

Life as a LOM is not always smooth running and it has its ups and downs.

Philip said:

Joseph Missen, Philip Missen and Chris Missen at MBE ceremony

‘I am very proud of the volunteers I have worked with since taking on the responsibility of Lifeboat Operations Manager. Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and employments and all live in our town. My two sons are both helm at the station and two other crew from Porthcawl have gone on to work full time for the RNLI. We have four helms who have been awarded RNLI medals in recent years along with their crews receiving letters of merit for their bravery.

‘Our patch is one of the most dangerous of all 238 lifeboat stations and one of my hardest and fortunately rare decisions is having to say no to our boats launching when I know there is someone in danger at sea and the sea and weather conditions are beyond the operating limits of our inshore lifeboats. This like I say is rare and our rescues have been many and varied.

HRH Princess Anne visited Porthcawl RNLI Lifeboat Station on Monday, February 9 during their 50th anniversary year.
Princess Anne talking to crew members.
Picture by David Williams

‘I have had the honour of hosting members of the Royal family and RNLI executives at our station over the years.

‘It was a great privilege that our new D Class lifeboat D861 Hugo Missen was named in memory of my grandson in 2022. Hugo lost his courageous fight against cancer aged just 15 months in December 2016. Difficult times and darkness fell over the family and station when Hugo became ill. D Class Hugo Missen is now saving lives and the light at the station shines bright again as the brass plaque on the lifeboat glitters, the light shines through the darkness.

‘My time as LOM ends due to my age and I have no say over that but I will remain a volunteer here for as long as I am able and I have a variety of jobs to look forward to, none operational, but satisfying in a different way.’

Launch Authority, Aileen Jones MBE said:

‘Philip has been like a big brother to me and a great support over the years, especially around the time when I received the RNLI’s bronze medal.’

Chair of the Lifeboat Management Group, Ian Stroud said:

‘During Philip’s time as Lifeboat Operational Manager, RNLI statistics confirmed there has been:-

1500 launches to casualties, 263 lives saved and 1532 people aided. This is a record Philip can be very proud of as 263 families have not lost a loved one.

With the exemplary record Philip has earned as Lifeboat Operation Manager I am delighted to learn that he has just been awarded a Mayor’s Citizenship Award 2024 for his volunteer manager role at Porthcawl RNLI.’