A SENIOR Wirral lifeboatman who was recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours is to retire after 40 years' service with the RNLI.

David Whiteley BEM, Coxswain of the Hoylake Lifeboat will step down from his post on Monday.

During his service as volunteer coxswain the 56-year-old has helped save more than 150 lives at sea.

He also acted as a figurehead for a successful campaign to raise £2m for the building of a new state-of-the-art facility in Hoylake, which opened in 2010.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to maritime safety in December.

Succeeding Dave as Coxswain is Andy Dodd, 37, the fourth generation of his family to serve the RNLI.

Looking back, Dave said that he has enjoyed the Coxswain’s role enormously.

He added: "The dedication and selfless commitment by Hoylake RNLI’s crew, their families and supporters throughout my time with them has been outstanding.”

When asked what advice he would offer to his successor, he said: "Enjoy the moment and the years ahead, the station is in very capable hands." 

Dave joined Hoylake RNLI as volunteer crew on his 17th birthday in January 1976, following in his father's footsteps.

His many roles included assistant mechanic, second mechanic and second coxswain. He was selected as lifeboat coxswain in January 2001.

Throughout his service Dave launched with the lifeboat many times, often in difficult conditions.

However, the longest and most challenging 'shout' he served on was in 1992, as a navigator under former Coxswain John McDermott aboard the station's previous lifeboat Lady of Hilbre.

The lifeboat was tasked to assist the Warszawska Nike, a Polish Tall Ship with nine people aboard that was caught in a gale while heading to Liverpool.

The lifeboat was out for almost 12 hours, often in short, steep seas with the wind gusting to hurricane force at times.

Coxswain John McDermott and all of his crew, including Dave, were congratulated for their fine seamanship and professionalism following the vessel’s safe arrival in Liverpool.

On Dave's retirement, John Curry, lifeboat operations manager at Hoylake Lifeboat Station, said: "Dave has been a great inspiration to all of our crew members.

"As a mark of the respect in which he is held, he was elected by the crew to lead them in 2001.

"He has shown great skill in many dangerous casualty situations when his crew relied on his judgement.

"Dave has been a very popular leader with a dry sense of humour who will be missed as Coxswain.

"We are fortunate that he will be staying on as part of the station operations team.”

Chairman of the Hoylake and West Kirby Lifeboat Stations, James Lodder, added: "Dave has worked hard as a fundraiser for the Hoylake station.

"He was a key member of the team that secured both the new lifeboat station which opened in 2008 and the revolutionary Shannon class lifeboat, Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood, which came into service just before Christmas 2014."

Dave's sucessor Andy Dodd joined the RNLI on his 17th birthday and has been Second Coxswain for the last 12 years.

He has also served as the station’s full-time mechanic for the last seven years.

On the new role he said: "I am immensely honoured to be following in the line of great men who have served the local community at the RNLI station.

"I am grateful to my father and to Dave for all their encouragement and guidance and to the crew for their support."