A FACT-finding mission to discover more about how his family were dramatically rescued off the Pembrokeshire coast over 70 years ago, has left Charlie Perkins feeling eternally grateful to St Davids RNLI this Christmas.

Charlie, originally from Tenterden, Kent, now living and working in Hong Kong, recently visited St Davids RNLI Lifeboat Station to find out more about the 1946 rescue of the Forban involving his father, uncle and grandfather, whose lives were saved after the Second World War.

Charlie contacted his uncle, David Perkins, 83, who lives in Devon - the only surviving member of family saved that day. David was able to confirm details of the fateful day when the St Davids Lifeboat Swn y Mor dramatically saved him and four others.

David was only ten years old, when he and his late brother Tim, then 12, travelled from Waterford to Wales with their father and two family friends.

"It was just after the war and as a result of wartime shortages the Forban was not as well maintained as perhaps she should have been," said David.

On the crossing they ran into bad weather, the boat's mast came crashing down, causing a large leak in the boat and destroying the life raft.

The boat had no radio so resorted to the old-fashioned distress signal of flying the ensign upside down.

"With waves crashing along the length of the boat, the weather deteriorating and the vessel sinking, my father tied myself and my brother to the mizzen mast," said David. "We really were in a lot of trouble and definitely are very lucky to have survived."

A small tanker spotted the vessel and came to their assistance. It was unable to rescue them but was able to radio for help and the St Davids lifeboat launched to their rescue, with the Forban sinking shortly after.

David, who today owns a 38ft yacht berthed in Falmouth, Cornwall added:

"Being contacted by Charles really sparked something in me and made me think about how our entire family would not be here today had it not been for the lifeboat crew coming to our rescue," said David.

Dai John, current Coxswain of St Davids RNLI Lifeboat, which is this year celebrating its 150th anniversary said:

"It was fascinating to look back at the rescue. David, his brother, father and the other couple on board were drenched and perished with the cold when the crew got to them. They really were lucky to have survived.

"Lifeboating has changed so much in the 70-plus years since this rescue. The one thing that hasn't changed is the courage and commitment of our crews who are still as able and willing to go to sea whatever the weather, whether that's at Christmas or any other time of year.

"The RNLI is however facing the perfect storm, with more people drowning and a dip in funds, so anything people can do to support us this Christmas to help us continuing to save lives would be much appreciated."

To support the RNLI's Perfect Storm appeal this Christmas, helping to ensure the charity's brave volunteers can continue saving lives at sea, please visit RNLI.org/ThePerfectStorm