When the couple first moved to the small port town of Silloth, Cumbria, four years ago, they didn’t expect that the RNLI would become such a big part of their lives.
Fast forward to 15 June 2019, to Sarah and Andy getting married surrounded by their fellow RNLI volunteers, with wedding photos taken on the station’s Inshore Lifeboat.
The RNLI is the charity that saves lives at sea, with their aim to prevent accidental drowning through prevention, education and rescue. The RNLI has 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland and 95% of RNLI people are volunteers.
Andy, 33, is an electrical engineer and Inshore Lifeboat Crew member at Silloth. He follows in the footsteps of his father Malcolm who joined the lifeboat station eight years ago.
Sarah, 32, an RNLI shop volunteer and fundraiser, became heavily involved with the RNLI’s charity work whilst working as a mobile hairdresser.
Sarah and Andy’s wedding took two years to plan, and the tight-knit family of volunteers was there to help every step of the way.
“Everyone pulled together. It was so lovely.” Sarah said.
The 158 guests who attended the wedding were all Silloth residents, and a large portion of them were volunteers and their families, making it a huge celebration for both the couple and the charity.
All members of the Silloth lifeboat family lent a hand with the wedding preparations, with nothing being too much trouble. The couple were blown away by the generosity of the volunteers and their families, as they were all so eager to help.
Sarah said, ‘Andrew Stanley (Lifeboat Crew member) took me down in his Series 1 Land Rover, which is like Silloth Lifeboat’s mascot.’
Silloth Lifeboat volunteer Andrew Row provided homemade beer, shop volunteer Lynn Downham made cakes and ex-crew member Vicky Hope provided sweets for the wedding guests.
Volunteer crew member Stewart Henderson donated table decorations and wife of Lifeboat Operations Manager Lesley Studhome made bunting for the venue.
Silloth helmsman’s wife Emily volunteered to do the hair and makeup for the bride and bridesmaids and crew member Daniel Shaw crafted a wooden box as a unique alternative to a guestbook.
Groom Andy Scott said that the highlight of his day was, “Getting the photos on the lifeboat. There were only two people [crew] missing because they couldn’t make it. Other than that, everyone was in it which was really nice.”
The newlyweds posed for wedding photos on the Atlantic 85 Lifeboat, which was positioned on Silloth sea front, and stood alongside their two sons (Harry, 2 and Connor, 5) and their fellow volunteers.
Andy wore his on-call pager on his wedding day, in case of an emergency, which is a reflection of the selfless nature of RNLI volunteers, who are committed to working to the highest standards and always ready to respond to calls.
Sarah said, ‘I didn’t know he was taking his pager- but I would have let him go if he’d been paged.’
Andy said, ‘It’s habit to take my pager with me wherever I go. If someone’s life is at risk I would put that over anything. We can get married any day, but someone can’t wait to be rescued another day.’
The Lifeboat Operations Manager, Eddie Studholme said, ‘All members of the crew are equally dedicated, but this just proved to what extent they are prepared to go.’
Andy also took his pager on the couple’s honeymoon to Crete, when on the second day he was alerted that two women and their five dogs had been cut off from the incoming tide. The couple stayed in the hotel until they received the all clear from his crew after the rescue.
Andy described: ‘You go through a lot of emotions when the pager goes off. It’s like a massive amount of adrenaline getting dumped into your body in a split second. You’re instantly wondering what’s happened and what’s going on. You don’t know what you’re heading into.’
Andy explained, “When you save someone’s life, it touches you. To think that you’ve had a massive effect on not just the person you’ve saved- but on their families lives as well.”
Andy and Sarah talk about how proud and honoured they feel being RNLI volunteers and how lucky and privileged they feel to be part of the RNLI’s important mission, to prevent and reduce drowning.
Andy said, ‘We want to say a big thank you to all the crew that helped, because without them none of it would have been possible.’
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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.
Learn more about the RNLI
For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.