Rodney Burge joined Amble lifeboat in 1969 after leaving the Royal Navy and he is still involved today as its press and media officer.
During the intervening period he has served as a crew member, second coxswain, coxswain, training coordinator and operations manager.
"The award was totally unexpected,” said the 76-year-old, who is married to Carol. “I already had a long service badge but to get the medal was really nice."
Born and brought up in Amble, he joined the Royal Navy as a teenager where he served as a submariner.
He bought a trawler boat after leaving the services and enjoyed a long fishing career until retirement.
"I joined the lifeboat as a crew member when I first came out of the navy and have done just about everything,” he recalled.
"You get all sorts of calls,” he added. “We can get some 50 to 60 call-outs in a year which is quite busy for a place like Amble but there again it’s been quite quiet over the last 18 months or so with Covid.”
He also wrote a book on the history of Amble and Hauxley lifeboat, chronicling some of the incredible lifesaving duties carried out by volunteers of the RNLI from the mid-1800s to the present day.
Amble has had a £2million Shannon-class all-weather lifeboat, Elizabath and Leonard, since 2016. It also has a D-class inshore lifeboat.