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Brixham fishing crew selected for first HM Coastguard 'Life Saver Award'

by Samantha Sinclair, MCA 17 May 15:34 UTC
(L to R) - HM Coastguard Winchman 'Spike' Hughes, Reegan Green and Mike Sharp © Rory Raitt

During an emotional evening, the crew members and owner of the Brixham fishing vessel 'Emilia Jayne' have been honoured at the Fishing News awards with the first ever HM Coastguard 'Life Saver Award'.

Crew member Reegan Green and owner Mike Sharp attended the ceremony held in Aberdeen last night (16 May) and accepted the new award, on behalf of the 'Emilia Jayne' crew, from HM Coastguard Winchman Mark 'Spike' Hughes who helped save Reegan Green when he was washed off the vessel in a treacherous sea.

Presenting the award, HM Coastguard Winchman 'Spike' Hughes said: "Through quick thinking and bold leadership, the Skipper, Jay Holden and crew member Luke Selvey helped HM Coastguard save Reegan that night, and through their actions are commended in keeping with the highest traditions of the fishing brotherhood. This award has been specially created to recognise a vessel crew who have clearly demonstrated they were prepared for the worst and their actions contributed to saving a life. In my job, I see far too often the tragic outcome of lifejackets not being worn. Even in horrendous conditions, lifejackets can keep a person afloat; keeping their airway clear of the water, so they can breathe. And there's no better example of this than Reegan Green's powerful story."

During the early hours of 10 March 2019, the Brixham beam trawler 'Emilia Jayne' BM 10 was around 25 nautical miles off Salcombe when fisherman Reegan Green was swept overboard by a huge wave, which lifted him up off his feet and over the side of the vessel into the sea.

Reegan, who was wearing his lifejacket, survived for over an hour in icy 20ft stormy seas, before he was rescued by the Newquay Coastguard helicopter. His crewmates on the 'Emilia Jayne' did all the right things by throwing a smoke marker, sending a distress alert and issuing a Mayday broadcast.

Newquay Coastguard helicopter and Salcombe and Torbay RNLI All Weather Lifeboats were immediately tasked and it was the helicopter crew that spotted the reflective tape on Reegan Green's lifejacket before winching him to safety. Despite being in a sea temperature of just nine degrees and very rough seas for over an hour Reagan was alive.

Speaking after the rescue 'Spike' Hughes said: "I've been doing search and rescue for nearly twenty years and Reegan was the first fisherman I've taken out of the water who was conscious and alive, but he was also the first fisherman I took out of the water wearing a lifejacket."

Owner of the 'Emilia Jayne' Mike Sharp said: "Fishermen work in some horrendous conditions it's unpredictable and challenging and it takes more than one person to keep a vessel safe. I'm very proud to have an amazing crew working on this boat they have a good safety regime which they're all involved in and have held regular training and drills. This clearly showed the day that Reegan went overboard. I'm very proud of all them and would like to thank HM Coastguard for honouring them in this way."

HM Coastguard Controller Dai Jones who works at the National Maritime Operations Centre in Fareham was also at the awards ceremony. He was in charge of executing the search and rescue mission on 10 March for Reegan. He said: "There was lots of cheering when Reegan was taken out of the water. We could not have hoped for a better outcome. The fact that Reegan was wearing a lifejacket clearly saved his life that day.

"We have state-of-the-art helicopters and incredible coastguard rescue teams and lifeboat crews at our disposal which can do amazing things, but they can only find people who are still on the surface. If you ask anyone who was involved in Reegan's rescue, they all say the same thing - Reegan rescued himself that day because he chose to put on his lifejacket before going on deck. And his crew also helped save him by doing exactly what they'd trained to do in their emergency drills. The vessel owner, Mike Sharp and the skipper Jay Holden should be so very proud of their actions by making sure everyone onboard knows that they should wear a lifejacket on deck."

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