Volunteer Tour Guide Gerald Beddard
As an RNLI Volunteer Tour Guide, Gerald takes people behind the scenes at RNLI College – the home of RNLI training – to show them how our crews and lifeguards are trained.
If we were a family, the lifesavers would be at the centre, and people like me would be the cousins, aunts and uncles who make sure they’re OK. There are roles for everybody, so many different skills are needed.Gerald BeddardVolunteer Tour Guide, RNLI College
When did you first get involved with the RNLI?
When I was 5, I was allowed to shake the RNLI collection tins while my mum pinned badges to people’s lapels. That was my first memory of the charity and I’ve supported the lifeboats ever since. I also have happy memories of going on holiday to Llandudno as a child, where the lifeboat would be sat out on the prom ready to launch. I was allowed to climb on it and play, my imagination running wild about the daring rescue I was about to do.
What sort of reactions do you get from the people you show around?
The people who come on RNLI College tours are a mix of supporters who already know about the charity, and people who just happen to be in the area. Those that don’t know about us are amazed that so many of the people in this organisation are volunteers. They’re also surprised at how much the kit and equipment costs. But, as I tell them, you can’t skimp on costs when it’s people’s lives on the line.
How do you view the bigger picture?
I’d say the lifeboat crews are what make my role – and everybody else’s here – possible. I’m also a volunteer bosun: all the kit and equipment and training aids I look after are for the crews. The crews are what inspire visitors on the tours to support us. If we were a family, and we sort of are, the lifesavers would be at the centre, and people like me would be the cousins, aunts and uncles who make sure they’re OK. There are roles for everybody, so many different skills are needed.