Class effort from Buckie RNLI's Aidan
RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew members can achieve a great many things during their service with the maritime search and rescue charity, but not too many of them can claim to have set a local record.
However, that is just what Buckie teenager Aidan Smith (18) has achieved in being the first school student to serve as part of Buckie RNLI's lifeboat's volunteer crew.
Aidan has just left Buckie Community High school while awaiting news of his application to join the Royal Navy as a marine engineer and it was time to reflect on claiming his own place in local RNLI history. A chance conversation with one of the crew saw the then 17-year-old pop along to a training session and was never to look back.
Aidan said: ‘My family have a fishing past, so I suppose it's something I've always had a connection with the lifeboat. Even though I was only 17 when I joined, I was always made to feel part of the team, I wasn't treated any differently and I went through the same training as everyone else.’
Talking of his early experiences as part of the team in Buckie, Aidan talks of the team camaraderie and its welcoming environment. Aidan added: 'There's a great sense of teamwork and it's something you don't get to do every day. I've been on a few shouts [callouts] and the adrenaline rush is amazing. The first shout was on January 15 this year to join the search for a missing man. I was on prelim exam leave at the time and was having lunch when the pager went.
‘I haven't had a shout when I was actually in school, though. Buckie High have been very supportive of me joining the crew and my Guidance teacher, Mrs Stewart was all for it, she really loved the fact I'd volunteered for the crew.
‘Joining the crew is something I'd absolutely recommend.'
Aidan added that he hoped to continue his association with the RNLI after joining the Navy, either in Buckie or near where he may end up stationed.
Lifeboat coxswain Alan Robertson – who himself joined the crew when a 17-year-old apprentice – praised the contribution made by Aidan and hailed BCHS for backing Aidan's commitment to the life-saving charity to the hilt.
'It's been great having Aidan as a member of the crew, he's fitted in really well,’ he continued.
‘We've had 17-year-olds join the crew before but as far as I'm aware he's the first one who's actually been still at school.
'Buckie RNLI would like to thank Buckie High for their support in allowing Aidan to become part of the crew – he's done himself proud and we wish him all the best in his application to join the Royal Navy.’
BCHS rector Neil Johnson also hailed the commitment shown by Aidan and other students from the school in serving their local community.
He added; 'Volunteering is one of the ways we encourage our young people to seize opportunities to develop themselves and give something back to our community.
'We have large numbers of young people who gain awards every year for their volunteering activity and I am delighted that Aidan’s commitment to his community through his work with the RNLI is being recognised more widely.'
The minimum age for joining the volunteer crew – for more information on joining either the crew or shore-based fund-raising team, visit Buckie RNLI's website at www.buckielifeboat.co.uk or phone the lifeboat during office hours on (01542) 831289.
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.