RAF flypast salute for hero Mike

Family and friends gather at the Guardhouse Cafe on Berry Head for the special tribute to Mike LakeyFamily and friends gather at the Guardhouse Cafe on Berry Head for the special tribute to Mike Lakey

A former RAF search and rescue officer from Brixham was honoured with a helicopter fly past after his death at the age of 72.

Rotarian Mike Lakey took part in many daring rescue missions during his career.

A celebration of his life was held at All Saints Church, Brixham, and waws broadcast via Zoom video conference to which 30 online subscribers took part.

A special event to mark his life, heroic acts and adventures was also held at Berry Head Guardhouse cafe to which 15 Rotarians attended.

Mike LakeyMike Lakey

The tributes were completed by an RAF helicopter flypast of search and rescue aircraft Mike had flown during his career.

He took a part in many rescue missions, the most noteworthy of which was the rescue of 24 men women and children from the Swedish chemical cargo carrier Finneagle which was exploding, burning and sinking in gale force winds and high winter seas off the Hebrides in October 1980.

Flt Lt Mike Lakey was awarded the George Medal; Flt Lt Bill Campbell the Air Force Cross; Sgt Rick Bragg the Air Force Medal; Flt Lt Dave Simpson and Sqn Ldr Hamish Grant were awarded Queens Commendations.

All five were awarded the Silver Medal of the Swedish Society for the Rescue of Shipwrecked Seamen.

The crew were the first recipients of the Edward and Maisie Lewis Award from the Shipwrecked Fishermen and Mariners Royal Benevolent Society.

Mike was awarded the International Helicopter Heroism Award from the Aviation and Spacewriters Guild of the USA, the Order of the Golden Lions of Sweden, and was also voted ‘1980 Scot of the Year’ by Radio Scotland listeners.

Several of the awards were accompanied by generous cheques to the RAF Benevolent Fund.

The Johannson Group, owners of Finneagle, presented the crew with a replica ship’s bell with an engraved plaque which reads: “The crew members, their families and the owners of Finneagle express their gratitude for the most courageous rescue of all on board the vessel when she was burning and in a gale and had to be abandoned on October 2 1980.

“The bravery and endurance of the crew are beyond all praise.”