A Christmas with the crew
We chat to a few volunteers from south-west England who are preparing for their first Christmas on call.
Like father, like daughter
For new volunteer Ellie Baker, this will be her first Christmas as lifeboat crew at Burnham-on-Sea RNLI. Her dad, Lyndon, has been volunteering with the RNLI since 2003, so Ellie and her three brothers grew up around the station. She says: ‘The RNLI was always part of our lives growing up. There were many family occasions where Dad had to leave to help someone in trouble at sea, and Christmases were spent with the threat of a pager going off.’
Over the festive period, there will be thousands of volunteers, like me, wearing pagers and ready to help those in trouble on the water
She adds: ‘This year, I will be joining my Dad on call over the festive period, I know there will be thousands of volunteers, like me, wearing pagers and ready to help those in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather is at its worst and lives can be on the line. But we know if we’re needed, we can rely on the training and equipment we receive, thanks to the donations people have generously made to the RNLI.’
Over in Fowey, volunteers are celebrating the first female helm in their 160-year history. Amelia Luck, who joined the crew 4 years ago, recently passed out as helm for the station’s D class lifeboat. Her brother Oli is also on the crew – and their dad Adam is a deputy launching authority at the station. So this Christmas, all three could be called away from their festivities.
‘Last year, we had a shout on Christmas Day,’ remembers Amelia. ‘My family and I go for a festive swim, and we were down at Readymoney Cove in Fowey when the pagers went off. I got a lift with another crew member and arrived at the station dripping wet in a dryrobe with my bikini on underneath! The probability of having a shout this Christmas Day is no different to any other day though, and as volunteers we’re always ready to respond, 24/7. This year will be my first in charge of the lifeboat and I am so proud of what I have achieved.’
The first Christmas on call
I feel very proud, and I love being part of something bigger than myself
In Salcombe, Devon, new crew members Charlotte Savage and Amy Cleave will be experiencing their first Christmas on call.
Charlotte joined the crew in January 2020. Born and raised in Salcombe, Charlotte and her family always knew the lifeboat crew and she was keen to join them. She says: ‘I feel very proud, and I love being part of something bigger than myself. The team at Salcombe are fantastic. I’m excited and looking forward to the Christmas on call. Each one can be so different and a great learning experience. My family are very supportive, and my father would have loved the idea of me being part of the RNLI.’
Amy joined the shore crew in September 2020 and became part of the seagoing crew in April this year. Her dad was on the lifeboat crew in Newquay in the 1970s and 80s, and she juggles the role alongside her day job as a structural engineer. Amy says: ‘I’m really proud to be on the crew. It’s an honour to be part of something as great and well respected as the RNLI. Christmas is all about the run up for me, so I’m happy to be sitting at home with a dog on my lap, next to the pager, probably eating cake.’
Christmas with a pager
In Lyme Regis, new recruits Giles and Maria are also preparing for their first Christmas on call with the crew.
Giles, who is father to twin 9-year-old girls, moved down from London with his family, and joined the crew in May 2021. He says: ‘This Christmas, the downside would be a call on the big day, but the upside would be answering that call and playing an important role in the community. The girls are very sweet about my lifeboat involvement and never hesitate to put their pennies in their money boxes for the RNLI.’
Maria is an artist and originally from Russia, where her family will be this Christmas. She says: ‘I am looking forward to Christmas but if the pager goes off, I will just run. It's simply instinct. I drop whatever I’m doing and get to the lifeboat station in the quickest and safest way, which is often a sprint along the seafront. The only exception I can think of is if I am in the shower, it may take a little longer. But that hasn’t happened... yet.’
Will you support our volunteers this Christmas and help them to save every one?