Volunteer crew members in Ramsgate are no stranger to responding to calls for assistance, but the tables have turned as they issue their own cry for help - to recruit more people to help save lives at sea.
The lifeboat station, based in the town’s marina, is currently experiencing a low in the number of volunteer crew members who can respond to the pager to go to sea to help others in distress.
In a bid to address falling numbers, the lifeboat station is holding a special open evening for anyone interested in finding out more and potentially training to become a crew member. The evening – which takes place on Wednesday 11 July – is open to absolutely anyone who wants to find out what being a volunteer crew member entails and whether it would be of interest to them.
Ian Cannon, Coxswain at Ramsgate RNLI Lifeboat Station, said: ‘Every lifeboat station has its ups and downs with crew levels, but we’re experiencing a real low right now. Although at the moment we are able to attend every shout for help, we might not be able to in the future so we’re keen to reach anyone who might be interested in getting involved.
‘Where we’re really struggling is with daytime lifeboat cover. The main cause is the wealth of local employment opportunities regarding various offshore wind farms being built off the Kent coast. Of course, we would never deny anyone the opportunity of work, especially in the somewhat challenging financial climate we’re living in.
‘Unfortunately for us though, the kind of skills that are being sought are similar to those that lifeboat crew members have, so we have lost a few people to that industry. They still want to be involved with the RNLI, but they’re just not in a position to respond to the pager if they’re already 50 miles out at sea when it goes off!’
The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea and relies on volunteer crew members to launch its lifesaving missions. Since it began in 1824 it is this volunteer spirit that has driven the charity and earned it the huge respect it commands internationally.
Ian said: I think sometimes people are discouraged from getting involved with the lifeboats because they have little sailing experience, or they’re not into watersports. But what they don’t realise is only one in ten lifeboat crew members come from a maritime background. It’s not unusual to find builders, tradesmen, solicitors, hairdressers, and all manner of other jobs amongst the crew, which makes for a real community feel.
‘We hope this open evening will bust some of the myths - the only thing you need to get involved at a lifeboat station is a little time, a willingness to help and the desire to be part of a wider cause.'
The RNLI is particularly interested to hear from younger people as the role of volunteer lifeboat crew member would suit people with young families, people in their 20s and 30s and who live or work nearby: volunteer lifeboat crew members must be able to reach the lifeboat station within ten minutes.
Elizabeth Renshaw, RNLI Volunteer Recruitment Advisor, said: ‘Being a volunteer lifeboat crew member can be hugely rewarding, as you get to help a lifesaving cause at the same time as becoming part of a whole new community. The crew training provided by the RNLI charity is second to none, so you don’t have to have a scrap of previous maritime or sailing experience – you just need to be keen, enthusiastic and willing commit to the cause.’
The station open day will take place on Wednesday 11 July 2012, from 5pm to 9pm and anyone is welcome to go along. In the meantime, anyone interested in enquiring about the station can email the station at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org