Ex-Harbourmaster and RNLI ‘guiding light’ dies aged 86

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A SEAFARER and Jurat who was Harbourmaster for almost two decades and played a pivotal role in improving maritime safety around the Island has died aged 86.

Captain Roy Bullen passed away peacefully in the early hours of Friday with his family by his side.

Capt Bullen left the Island at 14 and spent ten years abroad before returning to work at the Harbour Office, where he remained for 34 years, the last 17 as Harbourmaster.

In that role he was, among other things, responsible for the operational control of the St Helier and St Catherine’s RNLI lifeboats – beginning a strong association with the charity which would remain for the rest of his life.

While serving as Harbourmaster he also led the response to the Channiland incident in 1995, when a ferry carrying more than 300 passengers struck the Frouquie reef off Corbière, requiring a full evacuation from the sinking vessel.

Capt Bullen was made an MBE for his services to maritime safety.

After leaving the Harbour Office, he became a Jurat of the Royal Court in 1988 and stayed in the honorary position as a judge of fact until his retirement in 2009. Capt Bullen remained president of the Jersey branch of the RNLI.

While he drew much enjoyment from his work, Capt Bullen also derived great pride and joy from time spent with his loved ones, and was also a much-loved father and grandfather.

Sharing the sad news of his passing on Friday, the RNLI said: ‘Roy has been a guiding light for our charity, dedicating decades to the service of saving lives at sea.

‘During his time at the Harbour Office, he first served as a Launching Authority, then later as RNLI Honorary Secretary of the St Helier and St Catherine’s lifeboat stations and, more recently, as Chairman of the RNLI Jersey Lifeboat Management Group (formerly Branch Committee).

‘His tireless efforts and unwavering commitment to the RNLI, both locally and nationally, have been truly remarkable.

‘In addition to his leadership roles within our organisation, Roy was awarded the MBE for his outstanding contributions to the maritime industry and his steadfast dedication to serving the wider Island community.’

The RNLI statement continued: ‘Capt Bullen’s legacy will forever be remembered in the hearts and minds of all those who had the privilege of knowing him.

‘His passion, expertise, and commitment to our cause will continue to inspire us in our lifesaving work.

‘The RNLI family extend our deepest condolences to Roy’s wife, his daughters and the family at this saddest of times.

‘May he rest in eternal peace.’

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