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Boy, 17, is youngest RNLI crewman

28 October 08 12:14 GMT

A teenager has marked his 17th birthday by becoming the country's youngest serving lifeboat crew member.

Ritchie Durrant of Lyme Regis in Dorset was formally accepted as a crewman at the town's RNLI station at one minute past midnight on Sunday.

Ritchie, a sixth-form student, can respond to a call-out when his pager beeps while he is at nearby Woodroffe School, but not when he is in a lesson.

An RNLI spokesman said Ritchie was the youngest current crewman.

"I thoroughly enjoy my involvement with the lifeboat," said Ritchie, whose two uncles are both lifeboat crew members.

"It does give me a buzz, but it is also about giving something to the community in which I have always lived."

Bad summer weather and an increase in inexperienced sailors have led to a recent increase in sea rescues on the south coast, including Dorset.

Ritchie had previously been attached to the Lyme Regis lifeboat station through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

Rob Fossett, lifeboat operations manager in Lyme Regis, said: "We are delighted to have Ritchie confirmed as an operational crew member.

"He has been a very enthusiastic helper, but now it's official - he is a fully fledged member of the team."

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