The Welly Trail ‘Keito’


Welcome to the Exmouth RNLI Yellow Welly Trail.

If you have a leaflet, enjoy the trail.

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 where you will find all the information you need to enable you to join in!

Sponsored by:

Victoria Road, Exmouth EX81DR


Keith ‘Keito’ Graham 

Coxswain 1984-1998

Coxswain of three Lifeboats:

Caroline Finch

Louis Marchesi of Round Table

Forward Birmingham


Exmouth Harbour Master

Already Deputy Coxswain, Keith Graham was made Coxswain in 1984.  As a child, Keith was given the nickname ‘Keito’ by his older brother, a nickname still used today. 

On Easter Sunday, 1985, a member of the public reported that a speedboat had sunk on Pole Sands.  Coxswain Graham headed into rough seas at full speed, eventually finding a man in the water, supporting two teenage girls, one unconscious, none of them wearing a life jacket.  Two crewmen jumped into the sea to bring the casualties onboard the  Lifeboat.  The unconscious girl was winched onto an RAF helicopter, and the Lifeboat returned to Exmouth at full speed where an ambulance was waiting for the other casualties who were suffering shock and hypothermia. For this excellent service, the RNLI awarded Thanks on Vellum Certificates to the Crew. 

In calm seas on 15th April, 1995, the pleasure boat ‘Exonia’ ran aground in the River Exe, near Maer Rocks.  As there were 24 passengers and 2 crew aboard, the ‘Louis Marchesi’, the IRB and the Boarding Boat were all launched. The water was shallow, so the two smaller boats ferried the 10 adults and 14 children to the bigger Lifeboat. The crew then checked on 4 other boats which had also run aground in the same area. 

Exmouth celebrated the arrival of a new Lifeboat ‘Forward Birmingham’ in June 1996, ‘Forward’  being the motto on the Birmingham Coat of Arms.  Like the ‘City of Birmingham’  26 years earlier, she was bought for Exmouth by the people of Birmingham.  The advances in Lifeboat design meant that the price of a Lifeboat had jumped from £72,000 in 1970 to £1 million.  Again, a special train brought RNLI supporters from Birmingham to the ceremony in Exmouth, but before leaving Birmingham New Street Station the Mayor also named the train engine ‘Forward Birmingham’. 

The new Lifeboat was escorted into Exmouth Docks by the retiring ‘Louis Marchesi’, the IRB, Boarding Boat, the Lifeboat from Teignmouth and a flotilla of pleasure boats and yachts.  There were boats everywhere.  Everything that could make a noise was used to make a noise”. 

When Lifeboats are ‘retired’ by the RNLI, they are sold to provide funding to build new Lifeboats.  Often, they are still used to save lives in other parts of the world, ‘Caroline Finch’ became a Lifeboat in South Africa, and ‘Louis Marchesi’ in New Zealand.

In 1996, on her 18th Birthday, Cary Wreford became the first female member of the Exmouth RNLI crew. It had been her ambition since she was 11. 

On his retirement from the RNLI in 1998,  Keito said he “Felt naked walking out without a pager on my hip”. He had served for 18 years, and in that time, Exmouth RNLI had saved 98 lives. 

Wherever you walk in Exmouth, you will see blue rowing boats filled with floral  arrangements by Exmouth In Bloom.  Many of these boats are named after Exmouth RNLI Lifeboats.  As you walk towards the next welly on the trail, you will pass one of these boats dedicated to the memory of Will Carder, Exmouth crewman who lost his life during a rescue on Christmas Day, 1956. 

The boat outside the Train Station is dedicated to the memory of Pat Graham MBE, Keito’s late wife.  Pat was Mayor of Exmouth, and awarded an MBE for her work as founder and President of Exmouth In Bloom, so it is very appropriate that her boat currently contains a display to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the RNLI. 

You might spot Keito enjoying a pint at The Beach Pub, and can see portraits of him and other coxswains on the wall.



Write the letter A from GRAHAM in space 13 of your answer box.


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We have made every effort to ensure all the information about the Coxswains is accurate. However, we are always happy to be corrected or updated and, if you can add to our knowledge base, please email us at

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