Clacton RNLI volunteer dusts off football boots for charity

Lifeboats News Release

A Clacton RNLI volunteer is set to play in a charity football match, organised by Essex Hands to remember Ben Quartermaine, who tragically lost his life last year in the sea off Clacton.

RNLI/Clacton RNLI

Steve Oakes

On Sunday 28 July, Steve Oakes, probationary helmsman, will be taking part in the Ben Quartermaine Charity Football Memorial Match, the centre piece to a big family fun day, starting at 11am. Pitting his football skills against those of the Arsenal Charity Football Team, and in doing so, raising as much money as possible (Clacton RNLI 70% and Arsenal Foundation 30%).

Mr Oakes having played for FC Clacton and now using those skills to coach the next generation brings him into contact with sixth form pupils from Ben Quartermaine’s former school, Clacton Coastal Academy. He was also part of the 30+ team from Clacton RNLI involved in the multi-agency search for Ben.

Having initially joined the lifeboat crew in April 2009 after a year as shore crew, August 2009 would change Steve’s life when he had the heart wrenching tasking of pulling Stella Akanbi from the sea off Clacton, when she was spotted by the Police helicopter after a 24hr search.

This came to effect Steve more than he initially thought, as he recalled: ‘After this service I had a couple of counselling sessions organised by Tim Sutton through Tendring District Council as at the time I was a Seafront Warden, and I thought I was doing well.

‘With the birth of my first child in the September, life was so hectic I seemed fine, but once things calmed down, and despite support from RNLI colleagues, I started to struggle. This resulted in me leaving the RNLI in an attempt to escape what I had seen and to try and come to terms with it.’

After re-joining the crew in 2015, when the nature of the call for Ben Quartermain was apparent, I did think of Stella, but knew there was a job to be done. With the support of my fellow volunteers I was able to carry out the tasks necessary, and I am in a better position to deal with it mentally now.’

To help all operational volunteers exposed to traumatic events, The RNLI has adopted Trauma Risk Management (TRiM), which is an evidence-based peer-support system that helps organisations deal with the psychological aftermath from exposure to traumatic events.

It was first used by the Royal Marines and has since been embedded in all UK armed forces as a standard means of assessing personnel for signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

In response to his experiences Mr Oakes is attempting to combine two of his passions, football and the RNLI, to raise as much as possible to help his fellow volunteers at Clacton RNLI to continue to save lives at sea.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Richard Wigley volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07903424698 or richard_wigley@rnli.org.uk or Clare Hopps, Regional Media Officer on 07824518641 or Clare_Hopps@rnli.org.uk or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

RNLI/Richard Wigley

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 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.

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