Bravery award for lifeboatman who battled hurricane conditions to save crew

A lifeboatman has told of battling hurricane-like conditions to save the lives of eight people stranded on a French yacht.

Coxswain Patch Harvey, now 54, and his crew of six were called into action on the evening of Halloween, October 31, 2022.

Their vessel was launched from RNLI Penlee, Cornwall, at 8.30pm to rush to the aid of a 40ft sailing yacht that was disabled two miles off Porthleven.

The crew battled through winds of up to 87 knots, waves of six to seven metres and poor visibility to rescue the stranded crew who were taking on water and on a collision course with rocks.

Mr Harvey, a husband and father-of-three, was awarded a Silver Medal for Gallantry by the Princess Royal at a Buckingham Palace garden party on Thursday.

His crew were also awarded Silver Medal Service Certificates for their courage.

Mr Harvey, who has worked in the RNLI for 32 years, told the PA news agency: “What an honour and a privilege. I’ve always seen pictures of the palace but never thought I’d have a chance to be on the grounds.”

Speaking about the incident in 2022, he said: “We were called out to a yacht with eight people on it. It was hurricane conditions.

“Their sales were blown out and the engine wasn’t working. If we hadn’t got there, the boat would have smashed into rocks and we would have lost all eight people.

“I’ve been in the RNLI for 32 years and I’d never experienced conditions like that before.”

The Sovereign’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution garden party
The Duke of Kent is shown an RNLI lifeboat (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Mr Harvey was awarded the medal stood alongside his wife, Nina Harvey, at a garden party to celebrate the RNLI’s 200th anniversary.

The event was held by the Princess Royal, accompanied by Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, and The Duke of Kent.

Around 2,500 long-serving members of the charity, staff and their families were in attendance.

An Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat was also featured and inspected by the Duke of Kent.

On his meeting with the Princess Royal, Mr Harvey said: “She asked questions about what we were called out to do. She was interested in what we did.

“She used to fly helicopters and said she’d rather have been in one of those than a boat. It was amazing.”