Penlee Lifeboat: Forty years later, pre-Christmas bravery still marked by heartrending village ritual

Forty years ago this weekend, the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne was launched into hurricane-force winds that had whipped up 50ft waves off the treacherous Cornish coast. The crew of eight experienced volunteer lifeboatmen were attempting to reach a stricken coaster, the Union Star, which was in danger of drifting on to rocks. What followed was an audacious act of seamanship in extreme conditions which nearly succeeded in saving those in peril. Instead, it is remembered as one of the greatest tragedies in the 197-year history of the RNLI.,, The Coastguard telephones Trevelyan Richards, 56, a trawler skipper who has been coxswain of the Penlee lifeboat Solomon Browne for the past 11 years. It explains the plight of the Union Star and asks Trevelyan to put his crew on standby. As his widowed mother, Mary, lays the table for supper, he starts phoning senior crew members to warn them they may be needed. photos, >click to read< 19:17

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