Torbay crew recognised after Force 9 Ice Prince rescue

The Torbay RNLI lifeboat crew have received the GMTV Emergency Services Award, as part of this year’s Daily Mirror Pride of Britain Awards.

The crew members rescued eight people from a stricken timber cargo ship Ice Prince in Force 9 winds in January. They were presented with their award by Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London.

Now in its 10th year, Pride of Britain has become one of the biggest national events of its kind, celebrating the achievements of our country’s unsung heroes.

The seven Torbay lifeboat crew members, five of which are volunteers and each hold down full-time jobs, faced torrential rain and strong winds for two hours to reach the Ice Prince.

They were the last hope of survival for the sailors as the rescue helicopter had been forced to leave the rescue mission in the appalling conditions, after rescuing 12 of the 20 on board and reaching full capacity.

The crippled vessel had been blown almost onto its side in the relentless storm and had lost all power while south east of Berry Head in Devon in January.

“It was one of those situations where if you got it wrong you were dead. The massive waves were smashing us against the big ship and then moving us away, it was utterly exhausting,” Coxswain Mark Criddle explained.

Coxswain Criddle had to position the lifeboat right under the stern of the 7,500 tonne ship – risking the lifeboat being smashed against the massive ship.

As he positioned and re-positioned the lifeboat an exhausting 50 times, each of the remaining eight Ice Prince crew was helped to jump onto the lifeboat amid 25ft waves and lashing rain.

During the two-hour rescue, one sailor fell into the sea and another had to be hauled on board after narrowly missing the deck but miraculously all eight were saved without any injuries.

The crew, Coxswain Mark Criddle, Second Coxswain Roger Good, Deputy Second Coxswain John Ashford, Mechanic Mathew Tyler, Second Mechanic Nigel Coulton and Crew Members Darryll Farley and Alex Rowe, received their accolade at the star-studded Pride of Britain ceremony held in London last week.

Prince Charles and Prime Minister Gordon Brown joined more than 100 of the country’s biggest stars including David Beckham, Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Michael Caine, Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Ant & Dec, Kevin Spacey, Bruce Forsyth and Gordon Ramsay in saluting the incredible real-life winners.

Mark Criddle was awarded the RNLI’s Silver medal for Gallantry in May for his part in the rescue of eight crew from the sinking merchant vessel, Ice Prince and the six crew members each received the RNLI’s Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum.

Salcombe’s lifeboat crew received a Chief Executive’s Letter of Appreciation for their valuable assistance during the rescue.