Legendary lifeboat coxswain David Cox dies aged 96

The Lucy Lavers returns to port at Wells Quay after its anniversary of Dunkirk trip - The last coxsw

Legendary Wells lifeboat coxswain David Cox has died at the age of 96 - Credit: Archant

Legendary Wells lifeboat coxswain David Cox has died at the age of 96. 

During his long and distinguished service with RNLI Wells, Mr Cox received five awards for courage, determination and excellent seamanship. 

91-year-old former coxswain David Cox attended the 57th annual lifeboat service in Wells. Picture: R

David Cox has died at the age of 96 - Credit: RNLI

The RNLI station flag is being flown at half mast following his death on Sunday, April 24. 

Chris Hardy, lifeboat operations manager, said Mr Cox had inspired all those with whom he rubbed shoulders. 

He added: "David was an inspiration as coxswain to all lifeboatmen throughout the institution, particularly for his courage and unwavering determination to save lives at sea off our coastline.

"He actively continued that commitment throughout his retirement and was a great ambassador for the RNLI, often recalling in great detail the difficult ‘shouts’ he had taken part in over the years, which totally captivated all those who were listening.

91-year-old former coxswain David Cox attended the 57th annual lifeboat service in Wells. Picture: R

Legendary Wells lifeboat coxswain David Cox - Credit: RNLI

"David’s time served in Wells will never be forgotten and his longstanding contribution to the RNLI will live on in his memory. He was a legend."

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Born into a family of fishermen in 1926, a life at sea for Mr Cox was inevitable. 

It took him on transatlantic cargo trips to America, fishing for whelks out of Wells harbour and, in time, becoming coxswain of the Wells lifeboat.  

As a boy, Mr Cox would race to the beach when the launch maroons went off from the lifeboat house, indicating danger at sea, and would help to launch the lifeboat.

The ceremonial launch of the Lucy Lavers at Rescue Wooden Boats in Stiffkey - Lucy Lavers last coxwa

David Cox was awarded a British Empire Medal in 2021 - Credit: Matthew usher

In 1945, aged 19, he volunteered as a member of the lifeboat crew and took over as coxswain from his uncle, William Cox, in 1960.

His most difficult rescue, for which he was awarded a prestigious silver medal, was in February 1979 when he helped save a Romanian cargo ship, Savinesti, with 29 people on board - 11 miles off the coast. 

The weather was so severe that neither the Sheringham nor Cromer lifeboats could reach the ship.

The Wells 37ft open lifeboat, Ernest Tom Neathercoat, launched and David and his crew reached the vessel, despite the lifeboat’s radar freezing and poor visibility because of snow. 

Legendary Wells lifeboat coxswain David Cox has died at the age of 96

Legendary Wells lifeboat coxswain David Cox has died at the age of 96 - Credit: RNLI

During his time as coxswain, he was awarded several other medals, Vellums and letters of service for his valiant efforts, including a British Empire Medal.

Before his death, he recorded memoirs which have proved a fountain of knowledge for the RNLI.