A LIFEBOAT helmsman is hanging up his lifejacket after 26 years of helping to save lives at sea.

Clacton RNLI volunteer Tim Sutton celebrated his 55th birthday on Tuesday, which means he must now stand down from duty aboard the station’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

Tim, who is a health and safety advisor and former seafronts manager at Tendring Council, joined the lifeboat station – now based in Hastings Avenue - in 1994.

He said: ““They’ll be no more going to sea, but I can still help out shoreside, driving the tractor and helping with the launch.

“Sunday morning was my last time afloat with most of the crew and will be one to remember.

“It’s been a great 26 years and there have been good times, as well as sad times.”

Tim thanked past and present crew members for their help over the years, including Ian Walsh, David Wells, Rob Bradbrook and Lee John Bolingbroke, as well as former Harwich coxswain Paul Smith.

He also thanked senior helmsman – and his best man and daughter’s godfather – Tim Dye, who is the crew’s senior helmsman, as well as his family.

Tim added: It’s not just about the lifeboat, there’s a wonderful community side to it, including delivering gifts to children in hospital.”