The UK diving fraternity were shocked and saddened to hear of the sudden passing of charismatic dive boat skipper Andrew Bengey in February.
Thousands of divers enjoyed memorable days out diving with the seals off Lundy Island with Andrew and his team from Obsession Boat Charters, and his unique personality and wit was the perfect accompaniment to the stunning journey from Ilfracombe to Lundy and back, and a day out on the water surrounded by seals, dolphins and other marine life.
As well as his thriving dive/fishing charter operation, Ilfracombe-born Andrew was also a stalwart of the local RNLI station, having joined as a volunteer back in 1978.
Over the course of the years, he progressed to Deputy Second Coxswain in July 1988, and then to Coxswain in September 2010.
Adrian Carey, Head of the South West Region of the RNLI, said: “The RNLI is deeply saddened by the sudden death of Ilfracombe RNLI’s Coxswain Andrew Bengey. Andrew served an incredible 45 years as a volunteer and was loved and well respected by the volunteers at Ilfracombe lifeboat station and the wider RNLI community. His passing has been felt across the organisation, and I and others learned so much from him over the years about what it takes to be a volunteer and lead a professional team of lifesavers. His impact and influence has been huge.
“His knowledge and kindness meant new and experienced crew members looked to him as a helpful guide and mentor both at sea, and back at the boathouse.”
He continued: “Our thoughts and condolences are with Andrew’s family at this very sad time. Andrew was due to retire from his role as Coxswain at the end of February, and although he planned to continue to volunteer for the charity, he was looking forward to spending more time with his family and pursuing his many other interests. We are saddened that this won’t be realised after the long service and contribution Andrew gave to the charity and local community.”