Mr Stokes, 89, who lives in Eythorne, gained the Royal accolade for giving services to lifesaving and lifeguarding in Kent.
Eric Stokes has been made an MBE in the New Year's Honours for services to life saving and life guarding in Kent.
He was twice past president of the Kent Branch of the Royal Life Saving Society, which he helped set up. Mr Stokes was described by fellow past president Dain Lewis as an “amazing man.”.
Born in Canterbury, and a primary schoolboy at Holy Cross at St Peter’s, he later went to St Dunstan’s Senior School, and missed out on going to Simon Langton Grammar School because his family could not afford the fee.
His love and aptitude for lifesaving started when on a Navy training ship on the River Medway.
“I realised there were lots of badges and I wanted them all,” he said.
After a spell working on the Orient Line steam navigation ships as a deck boy, he came home to get married to his first wife Doreena. The couple had two boys and a girl. He remarried some years later to Phyllis after his first wife died.
"When I worked at sea I used to teach the crews how to swim underwater through flames.
"When I worked at sea I used to teach the crews how to swim underwater through flames" - Eric Stokes MBE
“When I came home I had about two years of doing nothing then I was approached to join Dover Lifeguards Club as a swimmer and coach.”
In 1953 he joined the Fire Brigade and taught lifesaving there too in the same pool he had learnt the art himself.
“Then I was asked to set up the Kent Branch of the Royal Life Saving Society and was then asked to sit on the national lifeguarding committee and write a manual.”
He was involved in the national committee for 13 years and spent more time as national equipment officer for Mobil Oil.
In 1968 Mr Stokes became president of the Kent branch and again in 2010.
“I don’t know what makes me keep doing it. Sometimes I think it’s out of habit.”
On gaining the MBE Mr Stokes said: “It was a great surprise. Dain and a few others have worked very hard apparently.
“One doesn’t expect it. It is such a surprise - especially at my age.”