Minehead RNLI’s outgoing chairman Bryan Stoner has had an official send-off – from the people he says have made the biggest difference to the station during his 12 years in office.

Four of the crew’s five female members presented him with a framed photomontage of all Minehead’s RNLI personnel as an interim parting gift – a more formal event will be organised later in the year once coronavirus restrictions are relaxed.

Former GP and ex-crew member Bryan has stepped down from the post leaving the station in far different shape from when he took over.

He said the recruitment of women crew members was the achievement of which he was most proud.

“The first two came along as a result of a recruitment drive eight years ago and we now have five," he said.

"That’s 25 per cent of our crew strength which is probably one of the highest proportions of any station the country..

“There was some opposition to women recruits at first; the RNLI has always been looked on as something of a macho, male stronghold.

"But not only have they fitted in brilliantly they have all earned everyone’s respect by demonstrating they are just as capable as men of crewing a lifeboat.

Minehead RNLI operations manager Dr John Higgie said the station had benefited from a steady hand on the tiller for 12 years.