30 May 2024

Hundreds bid farewell to long-serving lifeboatman Steve Medcalf

Hundreds of people turned out to pay their last respects to long-serving volunteer lifeboatman Steve Medcalf as his coffin was transported along Withernsea’s promenade on the way to his funeral.

Steve, 52, a local builder who had held numerous roles with the RNLI in the town over the past 25 years, was the Withernsea station’s operations manager before he died in December, three weeks after being rescued from a fire at his home.

On the morning of Thursday, January 12, fellow crewmen, along with Steve’s family, friends and members of the community, gathered at Withernsea lifeboat station.

At 10.15am, the crew’s pagers rang in unison, before the station siren announced the lifeboat launch, signalling the start of Steve’s final journey.

A tractor driven by helmsman Antony Binns brought out Withernsea’s D-Class Mary Beal lifeboat, bearing Steve’s coffin, draped in the RNLI flag.

It slowly made its way along the promenade, led by Deputy Launch Authority John Hartland, and flanked by fellow crew, with Steve’s family following close behind.

Keeping pace with the procession, not far from the shoreline, was the Pride of the Humber, the lifeboat of RNLI Humber, which worked closely with Withernsea RNLI and where Steve had also been a crew member.

On its way to the Pier Towers, the procession halted briefly as Royal British Legion president Darren England lowered the Union flag.

A large crowd had gathered as the coffin was delivered to the waiting hearse by the RNLI crew, and applause rang out before the procession was brought to an end and the hearse left for the funeral service in Hull.

The Pride of the Humber sounded its horn in tribute before returning to its base at Spurn.

It was standing room only as hundreds packed the large chapel at Chanterlands Crematorium, where mourners heard more about Steve’s life, his dedication to serving the RNLI – as well as his love of pranking his colleagues.

Matthew Ainley, helm at Withernsea RNLI, told how Steve’s “passion and devotion” to the organisation “saw him give loyalty, knowledge, experience and love to the service and the station”.

He added: “More importantly, Steve gave himself to his friends and to the crew at not only Withernsea, but also to wider parts of the RNLI.

“Steve was our colleague, our friend, and someone who will be etched into our memories. He gave so much and asked so little in return.”

Music was also a big part of Steve’s life, and he was a huge fan of the Housemartins and then the Beautiful South, meeting lead singer Paul Heaton and the band members on numerous occasions.

Paul Heaton sent a personal message that was read out at the funeral.

He wrote: ““My deepest condolences to Steve’s children, immediate family and friends.

“It was clear from meeting Steve, on the occasions I was able to, and also the nature of his work with the RNLI, that he was a kind, giving person.

“Anyone close to him will already know this, and hopefully carry that passed-down kindness, and wear it like a medal for the rest of their days.

“Rest in peace, Steve. Paul Heaton and family.”