RNLI and me: Simon Gregson
He’s spent 26 years living on the UK’s best-known street – but this father and lifeboat station volunteer is as much about water as he is soap ...
You’ve been on Coronation Street since you were about 15 – what’s it been like to grow up in the spotlight?
It’s got some amazing elements but I don’t think I can explain exactly how odd it is too. Now I’m a dad, I’d probably caution my own children about some aspects of being in show business.
When I started, I had no acting experience. I’d snuck into school assembly late one day, just in time to hear about this unusual chance to be on a TV show. These days there are so many chances to have a brush with fame, but back then it was a big deal for a kid.
Some of the other actors took me under their wings a bit, but mostly the advice was: ‘Learn your lines and say them like you mean them – go!’ So I learned on the job. I certainly didn’t think I’d still be on the show 26 years later.
What’s your connection with Trearddur Bay – it’s pretty far from the fictional town of Weatherfield near Manchester, isn’t it?
As a kid, I used to go on family holidays to Salcombe in Devon with our little pram dinghy and later our 19ft yacht, which dad kitted out himself. After my first pay cheques started coming in from Coronation Street, I bought a little speedboat, and eventually a motor yacht.
In fact, when I was a teenager, I used to spend all Summer in the Lake District on a sports boat, then pop off an hour down the road to film the show, and come right back to the lake.
I’ve always loved boats, water and speed and when I went to stay with friends in Anglesey as an adult, I just fell in love with it. It’s unbelievably beautiful – almost like the Mediterranean when the weather’s right.
You’re a member of the Trearddur Bay lifeboat shore crew. How did that happen?
I’m good friends with a crew member on Trearddur Bay lifeboat, and he showed me round the station.
They asked me to be a sort of ambassador or patron, but I wanted to do more than that and it escalated. I’m not there to help as often as I’d like, but when I am, my role is to help get the lifeboat in and out of the water, wash it down and help keep it in good nick.
Of course I’d love to be actual lifeboat crew but I’m mostly based in Manchester, so that important role needs to go to somebody much closer to the station.
Why do you support the lifeboats?
I see the RNLI crews as comparable to the emergency services – even the military – in terms of their courage and their selflessness. Except the lifeboat crews are almost all volunteers.
I’ve been to the Holyhead Maritime Museum a few times now, and it’s just unbelievable: the conditions those guys used to row out in in these little, fragile looking boats!
It’s a genuine honour to be a part of the shore crew, and I have so much respect for the supporters, fundraisers, lifeboat crew and all the other volunteers who are involved in any way with such a valuable organisation.
Particularly around Anglesey where I’ve spent so many happy holidays, the seas can be really dangerous – we’re so much better off knowing that the RNLI’s lifesaving service is there.
Simon’s favourite …
Acting side project
I played myself in an episode of the cult sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf: Back to Earth. I was stood outside the Rovers Return with the cast and we realised we were all huge fans of each other’s shows. It was surreal but fun.
I like it when it’s a bit Carry On. You see a twinkle in the director’s eye and you think: ‘Yep, I can have fun with this today!’
Place by the sea
Nowadays it’s Anglesey. You have those incredible views over Snowdonia, the beaches and the amazing wildlife. I go with my family, and we’ve seen dolphins and seals, and there's even been reports of mako sharks on the beach.
Could you, like Simon, help out at a lifeboat station? Check out our current volunteer vacancies here.