Sam Jones, Tobermory
Name: Sam Jones
Role: Volunteer Crew Member and Lifeboat Press Officer
Day job: Photographer
How long have you been with the RNLI and why did you get involved?
I joined the crew about 4½ years ago in 2010. Although I have lived on the Isle of Mull since 1998, I worked away from home a lot as a civil servant, including 10 years at the Scottish Parliament. However, in 2010 I set up my own photography business.
While being self-employed is hugely liberating, throughout my previous careers working in government in London, Belfast and Edinburgh I’d always been part of a team and within months I found that I really missed that team spirit. I can’t think of being part of a closer team than a lifeboat crew.
What’s the best thing about it?
The camaraderie of the crew and the friendships, learning new skills and helping people in trouble. Managing to have a laugh even on the long and difficult shouts when you’re tired and would rather be having a dram by the fire.
And the worst?
My crew mates Gunny and David getting hold of my iPhone and updating my Facebook status on Tuesday training nights.
Is there a particular rescue that stands out for you?
An 11-hour, 95-mile shout to a fishing boat with a gearbox failure 7 miles to the west of the Isle of Coll in a Force 9 gale with winds gusting up to 60mph and 6-8m waves.
The night before, several of the crew had been at the World Mince and Tatties Championship at the Mishnish pub in Tobermory. Getting a call out in pretty dreadful conditions before breakfast the next day was not ideal, as you can imagine. I felt sorry for our Third Mechanic who had been a judge at the competition and had tasted 38 plates of mince and tatties of varying quality!
On a serious note, our relief Coxswain and full-time Coxswain were both commended by the RNLI for their actions and their seamanship on that day in January 2013.
What have you learned in your time at the RNLI?
The training both at the station and at RNLI College in Poole, Dorset, is first class. I have learned about diverse subjects ranging from sea survival, fire fighting, casualty care and search-and-rescue navigation through to media relations and video editing (the latter in my role as Lifeboat Press Officer). I also think that you learn a lot about yourself.
What other hobbies do you have?
Landscape photography is my business and my passion. I enjoy cooking and eating out. I also run (very slowly), and I enjoy the theatre and being outdoors.
What do your family and friends think of your involvement with the RNLI?
I grew up in Birmingham but both of my brothers were in the Royal Navy and so I went on holiday regularly to Devon and Cornwall with my parents. We always visited lifeboat stations at Looe, Appledore and Ilfracombe. My parents are both dead now but I think that of all the things I’ve done in my life, including studying at the LSE and Oxford, my mother and father would be most proud of my involvement in the RNLI and in particular being on the lifeboat crew.
My sister thinks I’m mad and my friends think that I should look after my iPhone better on a Tuesday night when Gunny and David are about.
Where do you call home?
Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. It’s a beautiful island with stunning landscapes and light – perfect for a photographer. Mull has a very interesting history and amazing geology. The people are all right too!
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve just done the photography for a cookery book/memoir which was published in November (The Ninth Wave: Love and Food on the Isle of Mull by Carla Lamont).
I work primarily in black and white and love photographing the landscape in stormy, atmospheric weather – which is just as well as I live in the Hebrides. I’m currently working on a personal project photographing people at work on Mull, including farmers and fishermen - I had a great day out recently at a sheep market in Oban.
I also plan to change the code to my iPhone before next Tuesday.