New Year's Honours 2020: Portchester man Roland Warmington awarded BEM for 40 years with the coastguard

A COASTGUARD who has saved thousands of lives over 40 years has told of his ‘surprise’ after learning he was to be honoured by the Queen for his heroics.

Friday, 27th December 2019, 10:30 pm
Updated Friday, 27th December 2019, 10:30 pm
Roland Warmington from Portchester who will receive a BEM for his work as a coastguard rescue officer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (221219-2)

Selfless Roland Warmington is one of hundreds of individuals across the country who are a part of the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list today.

The remarkable 61-year-old, of Portchester, is to receive a British Empire Medal (BEM) for 40 years’ voluntary service with the Portsmouth Coastguard Rescue Team.

During his decades with the service, Roland is thought to have attended around 3,000 incidents and rescued 2,000 people.

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Roland Warmington from Portchester who will receive a BEM for his work as a coastguard rescue officer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (221219-1)

But Roland, who is known as Roly to his friends and family, explained he was not expecting the honour. ‘I was very surprised to be perfectly honest,’ he said.

‘You don’t do this sort of thing for the awards, you just do it because you want to help the community.’

Roland got his first taste for rescue when he became a lifeguard in Southsea aged 14. Five years later he joined the coastguard, where he rose to become a coastguard rescue officer.

He said: ‘Where we live you can’t get away from the sea, so it’s so important you respect it. There’s always a risk when you go out in the sea.

‘But when I joined the coastguard I didn’t think I was going to be there 40 years.’

Since joining the service Roland, who works as a manager at BAE Systems, has also become Portsmouth’s station officer and is a senior coxswain on an independent lifeboat and Portsea Rescue.

And he has attended a further 300 emergencies as part of the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard Emergency Rescue Team.

The roles are voluntary and, among with his 11 team members, Roland can be on call 24 hours a day for the Portsmouth coastguard.

He said: ‘I have been to quite a few incidents over the years, some are really funny and some are really sad.

‘It’s been an interesting time and I’ve seen a lot of changes.

‘The animal rescues are the funny ones. Sometimes you have really snappy dogs and as soon as you hand them back to the owner they become really friendly. And of course the owner thinks you are brilliant for saving their pet.

‘We would always much rather people call us if their pet is in trouble than to try to go in after them.

‘But when you end up having to go to deaths or you’re looking for people who have been missing for a number of days it is really sad. It does get difficult sometimes, we can only do what we can.’

Roland will be seeing in the New Year will his wife Sally, 61, and son Michael, 24.