Weston-super-Mare RNLI crew member gains his D class helm qualification.
Local boat builder Martin Fear has successfully gained his RNLI helm qualification, for the Weston-super-Mare D class lifeboat Anna Stock, based at the lifeboat station at Knightstone
Martin has been involved in maritime activities from a young age, engaging in various sporting interests from his time in the sea cadets. He has gained RYA qualifications through the years, which has developed his confidence and local knowledge of Weston Bay and the surrounding areas. In his teenage years, Martin was encouraged by his father to pursue his interests through the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, when he volunteered at the Weston lifeboat station which at that time was on the now abandoned Birnbeck Island.
When the lifeboat station moved to its current temporary location at Knightstone, Martin was already part of the established crew, after being asked to join following his successful time volunteering.
Martin has now been on the crew for over 13 years. He remembers shouts in the early hours of the morning, running along the old pier in lashing rain and howling winds reaching the lifeboat station to launch into raging seas. He recounts a memorable call to rescue two capsized kayakers who were treading water between the Steep Holm and Flat Holm islands in fast moving tides.
Martin speaks passionately about his time at the station and the skills he has learnt. The process for joining the crew and training has developed over the years with progression through the shore crew, boat probation time and boat crew now a prerequisite before qualifying as a helm.
His profession as a local boat builder in Kewstoke keeps Martin close to the harbour, allowing him to be at the lifeboat station in a matter of minutes should his pager sound the alarm.
After a gruelling examination process, Martin now joins others at the station as a qualified helm.
Martin says: ‘I’m proud to volunteer at the Weston lifeboat station and enjoy meeting new people and learning new skills. The team at the station work well together and encourage each other to join in, whether it is to support fundraising activities, maintaining the lifeboat and the station or participating in training activities’.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.