“Lundy Diving” out of Ilfracombe
I & many other dive operators soley use only this charter for there great boat ,great crew & above all, awesome service. A tribute to Ilfracombe hero Andrew Bengey People across North Devon have been paying tribute to Ilfracombe lifesaver Andrew Bengey who sadly passed away on Tuesday, February 21.
An Ilfracombe man born and bred, Andrew grew up in and around the harbour. He joined the RNLI as a volunteer at Ilfracombe lifeboat station in November 1978. A crew member for many years, Andrew progressed to Deputy 2nd Coxswain in July 1988 and on to Coxswain in September 2010. A spokesperson for the Ilfracombe RNLI said: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ilfracombe Coxswain Andrew Bengey. Andrew, a central, much loved, and well-respected figure both at the station, and within the local community.” As Coxswain, Andrew’s clear-headed and decisive direction for his crew, together with his exemplary seamanship, saved many lives at sea.
His knowledge and kindness meant new and experienced crew members looked to him as a helpful guide and mentor both at sea, and back at the boathouse. “He was also a valued member of the station management team where his experience as a local business owner and his understanding of station dynamics meant his input into managing change and difficult decisions was greatly respected and appreciated. Adrian Carey, Head of the South West Region of the RNLI said: “The RNLI is deeply saddened by the sudden death of Ilfracombe RNLI’s Coxswain Andrew Bengey. Andrew served an incredible 45 years as a volunteer and was loved and well respected by the volunteers at Ilfracombe lifeboat station and the wider RNLI community. His passing has been felt across the organisation and I and others learned so much from him over the years about what it takes to be a volunteer and lead a professional team of lifesavers. His impact and influence has been huge. “Our thoughts and condolences are with Andrew’s family at this very sad time. Andrew was due to retire from his role as Coxswain at the end of February, although he planned to continue to volunteer for the charity, he was looking forward to spending more time with his family and pursuing his many other interests.
We are saddened that this won’t be realised after the long service and contribution Andrew gave to the charity and local community.” Since 1994, when the RNLI first started capturing crew data electronically, Andrew was involved in 458 launches from Ilfracombe, helping 550 people in difficulty at sea, and saving 31 lives. These figures illustrate the incredible contribution to the RNLI and saving lives at sea Andrew made. One of these shouts was to the rescue of the fishing boat The Torridge Warrior and its crew in 1994, in the worst weather conditions for 30 years. A joint rescue mission with Appledore RNLI, as a member of Ilfracombe’s crew, Andrew was one of those awarded a service certificate of thanks for his brave and selfless part in the mission. In 2001 he received a Framed Letter of Thanks from the RNLI Chair Peter Nicholson for his leadership, fine seamanship and sound judgement during the shout he led as Coxswain in October 2000. A yacht was on passage from Ireland to Ilfracombe and had suffered engine failure and was experiencing difficulty making port in the worsening weather conditions. In 2018 he received his Long Service award for his 40 years’ service.
Philip Hill, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager for North Devon said: “Andrew was a true leader and a father figure for many at the station. He was an incredible man who led with fairness, humour, and kindness. His passing is a huge and unexpected loss for everyone connected to Ilfracombe RNLI and who knew Andrew but mostly of course his family and close friends.”