A DEDICATED volunteer has been honour with a British Empire Medal for 30 years of voluntary work serving his community and helping to save lives.

Swanage Coastguard Rescue Officer Ian Brown received the accolade in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

While the medal may be in his name, Mr Brown told the Daily Echo it would not have been possible without the support of others.

He said: “It was a true honour when I found out and I take the honour on behalf of a lot of colleagues, family and friends because without their help I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

“I have some great people I work with. It is not all me. I can’t do it without them."

Mr Brown, whose day job is as a Dorset Police control room trainer, has been involved in many high-profile incidents since joining the team in 1990 and his calm authority has provided support for his teammates and others in often traumatic situations.

He has also given of his own time to promote maritime safety in the local community and leads his team’s attendance in the annual carnival parade which is another opportunity to engage with the public.

“This year has been particularly difficult because of the C word,” he added.

“Throughout of at any time in my life, this year has been the hardest ever and everyone has dug in and done their bit to support the community.

“It is a weird feeling. I never thought I would get something like this. I do it because I enjoy it and it is about putting something back into your community, which I would urge everybody to do.

“You can look back and say I have helped that or I have influenced that.

“An awful lot of coastguarding is done behind the scenes to try and prevent the incidents that take place, with council meetings and advisory groups. It is not always noted or seen.

“You try and do your bit and working with a lot of other you get the results.

“This year has been the busiest year ever on the back of visitors to the area.”

By maintaining a close relationship with the local diver and fishing community, Mr Brown has ensured crews have a local conduit through which to ask questions. This has resulted in many valuable assists during incidents where local boats have a better understanding of Coastguard procedures and the dive boats, in particular, have exercised with the Coastguard and developed model rescue plans.

Mr Brown promotes excellent partnerships and has been proactive with the local National Coastwatch Institute to encourage their volunteers to support lifesaving.

He has led his team in some difficult search and rescue incidents, including the high-profile Tilly Whim cave rescue attempt in 2014 and several searches in 2017 with high media attention focussed on Coastguard activities.

The 49-year-old is a committee member for the Swanage Museum, helping to maintain and preserve historical locations and sites in and around the Swanage area for future generations.

He has played a major part in the Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership, being instrumental in at least 35 (and counting) publicly accessible defibs being sited.

Reflecting on his work with HM Coastguard in recent times, Mr Brown said “We have had some very large and sad incidents, which the outcome is not always as we wanted to be, but on the other hand we have had some big incidents where we have had some success.

“Our thoughts are always with those individuals that we haven’t been successful with but we go out every time with the thought of the rescue itself and those rescues don’t come easy."