Lifeboatman who appeared in The Inbetweeners hailed for 25 years of saving lives

Michael Drummond, PA South East Correspondent

A lifeboat crewman who has been saving lives at sea for nearly 25 years and also appeared in TV sitcom The Inbetweeners is finally hanging up his RNLI lifejacket.

Modest but talented seafarer Andy Harris has been a stalwart member of Littlehampton lifeboat station for more than two decades.

During his time with the RNLI he has responded to countless emergencies and saved many lives, but also had his moment of fame in Channel 4’s coming-of-age comedy.

Mr Harris and colleagues appeared as lifeboat crew, or “Sea Police”, on the show, rescuing the gang following their run-in with a fish.

Off screen he works as a builder but, when the need arises, his knowledge of local tides and weather conditions has proved invaluable at sea.

Asked what he has enjoyed most about the role, Mr Harris fondly recalled: “The camaraderie, being out on the water, driving our fabulous lifeboats.”

Andy Harris (left) and fellow helm Ivan Greer (right) in full lifesaving kit prepare for a training session pre-Covid (RNLI/PA)
Andy Harris (left) and fellow helm Ivan Greer (right) in full lifesaving kit prepare for a training session pre-Covid (RNLI/PA)

During his time with the RNLI he has guided crews through training and on emergency calls to assist those in distress at sea and on the River Arun in West Sussex.

His lifesaving exploits include one dramatic incident where an inflatable dinghy had drifted nearly two miles offshore.

Mr Harris and his crew set out on their lifeboat Blue Peter 1 in search of the 7ft vessel, reported off Worthing seafront.

When they arrived on the scene, the three people on board were showing signs of hypothermia and disorientation, having spent a night at sea with only lightweight clothing and no lifejackets.

Despite stepping back from operations at sea, Mr Harris said he will still be part of the charity’s volunteer team as a mechanic and as a member of the shore crew.

Blue Peter 1 was retired from the station in 2016 and replaced by the current Atlantic-85 vessel Renee Sherman, built in East Cowes.

Mr Harris said: “It was a privilege to be able to drive the boat all the way from the Isle of Wight and bring her to her new home.

“Together with our D-Class vessel Ray Of Hope, we have great lifesaving assets available to deploy.”

Andy Harris at the helm of the Blue Peter 1 towing a yacht back to harbour in June 2012 (RNLI/PA)
Andy Harris at the helm of the Blue Peter 1 towing a yacht back to harbour in June 2012 (RNLI/PA)

He also recalled being asked to stand in with some fellow volunteers as extras, together with Blue Peter 1, for The Inbetweeners.

Although the storyline saw the characters Will, Simon, Jay and Neil head to Swanage for the annual geography and sociology field trip, the river and seafront part of the filming was actually done in Littlehampton.

Despite retiring from the RNLI, Mr Harris is never far from the water as he runs fishing charters on his boat out of Littlehampton Harbour.

Lifeboat operations manager Nick White said: “Andy is a superb helm and held in high esteem by us all.

“We are delighted that he will still be part of the charity’s volunteer team here at Fisherman’s Quay as a mechanic and as a member of the shore crew where, using his many years of experience, he will assist launches and advise other RNLI volunteers on boat and incident handling.”

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