Massive congratulations to Appledore RNLI's newest navigator.

Lifeboats News Release

Only three and a half years after joining the RNLI with no maritime background, Natalie Simmons was passed out this week as Appledore RNLI’s newest Navigator.

Snapdragon Photography, Bideford / Kayleigh Lee

Natalie Simmons becomes Appledore RNLI's Newest Navigator

An enormous amount of hard work has been put into her training by Natalie, all of which came to fruition on Tuesday 4 February when she became an authorised to navigate the RNLI all-weather lifeboats, which by implication, also means she is qualifies as navigator for the inshore lifeboats as well.

In an interview Natalie was asked why she joined the lifeboat in the first place. “I have always had a love for the sea and used to go mackerel fishing as a child with my dad off the South Coast. I work from home and thus miss the day to day camaraderie you would normally get in the work place. I wanted a new challenge and a new purpose. I cannot sit still with nothing to do, and I am not a big TV watcher”.

Natalie goes on to say: “I joined the lifeboat in the summer 2016 as shore crew and moved over to boat crew a year later completing my Sea Survival training at the RNLI main support centre at Poole in July 2017. I have always been interested in navigation and took a RNLI course of advanced navigation and radar a year ago. Following a lot of lifeboat station and home based training I later went on to do the RNLI’s Search and Rescue course at Poole. This includes planning and coordinating search and rescue search patterns in fog and darkness, as well as daylight. The Appledore crew have given me so much help and training I am really grateful to them”.

“One of the greatest rewards out on exercise is being able to find ‘Dead Fred’, our man-overboard dummy, who has been dropped in the water prior to our search commencing. Just before my assessments I had the opportunity to go to Salcombe to exercise and practice my navigation with a totally different crew, and on a different boat. The experience was a real confidence booster. As for the future, I want to put all my navigation learning into practise and just see where that leads me. I just regret not joining the RNLI earlier but with no maritime background I was not sure if I had much to offer the crew”.

In reply to the question asking what are the best and worse things about volunteering for the RNLI as boat crew Natalie says: “The best is the sense of camaraderie throughout the lifeboat family, and the feeling we get when we all work together to save lives at sea, and make the difference to an individual and a family. By far the worse has to be needing to go to the toilet on board on a long shout. It is so much easier being a boy!”

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.

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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.