The longest-serving coxswain in the 158-year history of Tenby lifeboat station has retired.

RNLI Silver Medallist Alan Thomas has dedicated 44 years — 28 of them as coxswain — to saving lives off the south Pembrokeshire coast.

He joined the station as a volunteer in January 1966 and took over as coxswain in 1982.

In this post he commanded three lifeboats, the Watson class Henry Comber Brown (1982 to 1986), the Tyne class RFA Sir Galahad (1986 to 2006) and the first operational Tamar class lifeboat in the UK, Hadyn Miller (2006 to 2010).

Alan looks back on a remarkable record of achievement for the Tenby station.

Between November 1982 and December 2009, Tenby lifeboats have been launched 557 times and saved 100 lives. A further 321 people have been landed.

In January 1990, Alan was awarded the RNLI’s Silver Medal for an outstanding service off Rhossili Bay, on the Gower peninsula, the previous September.

The skipper of the disabled fishing vessel Silver Stream, which was part full of water and struggling to keep off the beach, was plucked to safety after being trapped in the wheelhouse by loose gear on deck.

An RNLI spokesman said: “Alan saw that the man was in grave danger and, with outstanding skill and determination, he steered the lifeboat RFA Sir Galahad up to the fishing vessel into exactly the right position for the skipper to be pulled through the wheelhouse window by lifeboatmen on deck.”

Alan, who was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2004, had followed his father, William Ray Thomas, into the lifeboat service.

W. R. Thomas served Tenby lifeboat station for nearly 43 years, ten of them as coxswain from 1958 to 1968.

Alan is succeeded as coxswain by Graham Waring, until he, too, retires in September.

Phil John moves to Second coxswain and in September he will become coxswain.