Why volunteer? Four new recruits at RNLI Rye Harbour explain
To volunteer for any charity takes something special: but to risk going to sea in a lifeboat in all weathers is something else
Joe Plant is a freelance artist and animator in the music industry who now finds himself mastering the layout and functions of all the gear in an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat. His decision to volunteer hinged on a chance conversation with Stuart Clark, himself a recruit of less than a year who is now a full crew member. The two met in the course of Joe's wind-surfing activities. 'It's an amazing experience,' he enthuses. 'I'm learning new things all the time. It's not just inspiring – it blows you away.'
Lucy Green works in the Rye Harbour Stores and lives in the village with her daughter and son. Last November she attended the annual memorial service in the village church at which the sacrifice and courage of the seventeen crewmen of the Mary Stanford lifeboat, all of whom lost their lives, are celebrated. She remembers feeling that she wanted to be part of that, whatever 'that' might turn out to be. 'It's a thousand times better even than I thought,' she says. 'The camaraderie is like nothing else: we’re all part of the same family.'
For Izzy Bolton volunteering was a more obvious step since her father is the current station lifeboat operations manager, her mother is a former crew member and her grandad was a helm in his time. She is studying for Maths, Biology and Psychology 'A' Levels and at seventeen meets the minimum age requirement for a recruit in the RNLI. She is hoping in the future career to be a paramedic.'So far I have been challenged in so many ways,' she explains. 'I have already learnt so much - from knots to first aid.'
Megan Hollingsworth, also seventeen, was drawn into volunteering by her friend Izzy and had never previously even been on a boat. Fitness is important to her and once she has Personal Training and Sports Massage diplomas under her belt, that will be the area in which she makes a career. She admits that the thought of fitting in with a whole set of new people was daunting but reflects: 'While it's all been completely new I've really enjoyed getting to know how the RNLI works. I'm looking forward to getting out on the boat and playing my part in helping people in trouble.'
Four very different roads have led these recruits to the Rye Harbour lifeboat station. In their commitment and enthusiasm they embody the spirit that will enable the RNLI to continue saving lives at sea long into the future.
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.