Guard of honour for much-loved former lifeboat coxswain

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects with a guard of honour at Lowestoft lifeboat station on South Pier. - Credit: Mick Howes

A guard of honour assembled at a lifeboat station to pay tribute to a "wonderful ambassador" during a poignant procession.

A hearse was driven past Lowestoft lifeboat station, where the RNLI flag was flying at half-mast, before it paused to allow many people to pay their respects to a much-loved former lifeboat coxswain.

Shane 'Bert' Coleman

Shane 'Bert' Coleman. - Credit: The Coleman family

Shane ‘Bert’ Coleman, 65, was fondly remembered this week as a large turnout of people gathered to honour a man who made saving lives at sea "his mission."

Mr Coleman - a beloved husband, loving father and grandfather - died suddenly in hospital on June 3.

Shane 'Bert' Coleman

Shane 'Bert' Coleman. - Credit: The Coleman family

Sadly missed by all who knew him, more than 200 people turned out for the funeral service at Waveney Memorial Park and Crematorium at Ellough on Wednesday, June 22.

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects at Lowestoft lifeboat station on South Pier. - Credit: Mick Howes

Prior to the humanist service, the former RNLI lifeboat coxswain was given a fitting send off when his hearse was driven past the lifeboat station that had been his base for the latter part of his life saving career.

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects at Lowestoft lifeboat station on South Pier. - Credit: Mick Howes

A guard of honour of RNLI lifeboat crew paid their respects to a man who was involved in hundreds of lifesaving missions during an "illustrious" 30-year career that included a bravery award for one of many heroic rescues as three men were saved from a sinking tug.

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects with a guard of honour at Lowestoft lifeboat station on South Pier. - Credit: Mick Howes

As the RNLI flag was flown at half-mast, the hearse poignantly paused in front of the assembled lifeboat crew both past and present together with colleagues, friends and members of the public as they remembered Mr Coleman.

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects with a guard of honour at Lowestoft lifeboat station on South Pier. - Credit: Mick Howes

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Lowestoft Lifeboat Operations Manager Paul Carter said: "The turnout at the lifeboat station was excellent as the crew bowed their heads in the sunshine as the hearse arrived.

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects

Prior to Mr Coleman's funeral service, RNLI lifeboat crew and colleagues paid their respects with a guard of honour at Lowestoft lifeboat station on South Pier. - Credit: Mick Howes

"I wasn’t really surprised at the number of people at the crematorium for the funeral too as Shane was such a popular chap.

"The large turnout of over 200 people reflected the high esteem in which he was held with fellow lifeboat crew, past and present from neighbouring stations at Caister, Gorleston, Southwold and Aldeburgh and friends coming from further afield to pay their respects.

"He was a wonderful ambassador for the RNLI.”

'A debt of gratitude'

At the humanist service, celebrant John Blackman also spoke of Mr Coleman's dedication to the RNLI.

He said: “Shane’s son Matthew put it best when he said that for his dad, saving lives at sea was his mission.

"There can be no doubt that Shane made many sacrifices in his own life to help those in peril at sea.

"Shane and his brave colleagues are owed a debt of gratitude by so many.”

Mr Blackman described Mr Coleman's enjoyment of diving and rifle shooting and his love for his Labrador dogs.

He added: “Shane will be remembered in the main as a proud and loving family man, brother, husband, father and grandfather.

"On behalf of the family, I pass on their thanks for attending the funeral and for the kind words of support."