Tributes pour in for Lee Cowling, a Filey lifeboat crew member who has died suddenly aged 46

Tributes have been flooding into Filey Lifeboat Station for a well-loved crew member.

By Sarah Fitton
Sunday, 7th June 2020, 6:37 pm
Updated Sunday, 7th June 2020, 6:38 pm
Lee Cowling
Lee Cowling

Lee Cowling passed away suddenly on Friday evening, aged just 46.

More than 400 messages have been left on Filey Lifeboat Station’s Facebook page expressing condolences to Lee’s mum Irene, dad Richard and brother Richard, as well as to the rest of the crew for their loss.

Some have come from friends and RNLI colleagues from across the UK, but others are from complete strangers who want to convey their sympathy and thank Lee for his lifeboat service.

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Lee joined Filey Lifeboat in January 1992 at the age of 18, having been a member of Filey Sea Cadets since he was 12.

That training stood him in good stead as he was already an accomplished sailor and boatman.

He served on both the team’s all-weather and inshore boats, eventually becoming an inshore lifeboat (ILB) helm.

A spokesman for Filey RNLI said: “Lee was a lifeboat stalwart and it was through his dedication, drive and commitment that our annual raft race was rekindled in 2015, attracting thousands of visitors each year.

“He took part in countless rescues off the Filey coast. One notable service call was in March 2015 when both boats launched in complete darkness to assist in the search for a missing person.

“The rescue helicopter was forced to abandon the search due to a bird strike and the ILB was capsized in very confused seas.

The crew, one of whom was Lee, managed to right the ILB and carry the casualty to the boat which was recovered by rocket line fired from the all-weather boat (ALB).

“The ILB crew then faced having to be hauled 400 feet up cliffs or a long trek across rocks to the safety of the beach at Reighton Gap.

“They chose to walk but it took them almost two hours to walk half a mile scrambling over rocks and stones, and nearly all their kit was ripped to shreds.

“That’s lifeboating and that’s what Lee was keen to do.

“’Fair winds and following seas’, Lee. Your loss is very hard for us all to take in.”