A LIFEBOAT volunteer has celebrated 20 years of service by rescuing a stranded catamaran.

Helmsman Daniel Thatcher marked the anniversary by going to the aid of a catamaran with engine failure, south of Jaywick.

Daniel took to the forth seat aboard Clacton RNLI’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat in order to allow probationary helmsman, Brogan Bates, to take control of the mission at 9.55am on Monday.

Crew spokesman Richard Wigley said: "The catamaran was located one nautical mile north east of the North Eagle Buoy, where one crew member was placed aboard the vessel to check on the welfare of the skipper and to help prepare for towing into Brightlingsea.

"The catamaran was towed into Brightlingsea and placed on its own berth, being met by the Harbour Master and Coastguard mobile unit.

"The volunteers were then stood down to return to station, where the lifeboat was recovered and ready for service again by 12.30pm."

Two days earlier, in recognition of his dedication, Daniel was presented with a special 20 years’ service badge by Clacton RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager David Wells, during an informal get together of the crew and their families following Clacton Carnival.

Daniel said: "There have been a lot of changes over the last 20 years, lifeboats, boathouse, and faces around the boathouse.

"But one thing that has remained constant is the bond between the volunteers every time we go afloat."

Daniel joins three fellow helmsmen, Tim Dye, Tim Sutton and Adrian Rose, at Clacton RNLI who have volunteered for more than 20 years to save lives at sea.

Following the deaths of brother and sister Haider and Malika Shamas after getting into difficulty in the sea off Clacton last week, Clacton lifeboat station is also promoting the RNLI's 'Float to Live' initiative as part of its Respect the Water campaign.

Mr Wigley said the advice is that if you find yourself in trouble in cold water, fight your instinct to swim hard and panic, which can lead to breathing in water and drowning.

Instead float on your back until you have regained control of your breathing.