Liam gets the seal of approval for his first call as trainee helm

Lifeboats News Release

Most lifeboat crew members will have a vivid memory of their first ‘shout’ and for trainee helmsman Liam Sidders his first call at the helm of Whitstable’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat certainly got the seal of approval on Thursday.

Whitstable lifeboat crewmember and trainee helmsman Liam Sidders. Picture:RNLI Whitstable

RNLI/Chris Davey

Whitstable lifeboat crewmember and trainee helmsman Liam Sidders. Picture:RNLI Whitstable

Launching at 2.38pm to a report of a person in the water off Leysdown Park on the Isle of Sheppey any sense of tension and emergency was relieved when, just as the lifeboat was arriving at the scene, the Sheppey Coastguard Rescue Team who had spoken to the first informant confirmed that the sighting was actually a seal.

Said Liam ‘Although I have taken the helm on training exercises this was my first call running the boat from the helmsman’s perspective on an actual call. I had to start planning our operation right from moment I was told to take on the role by helmsman Andy Mayo who of course was observing everything I did. It was exciting but I felt concern for the person in the water and my crew and was keen to get on with the job’

‘’Obviously there was relief when the coastguard confirmed that it was a seal rather than a person in the water and I can commend the actions of the first informant who did exactly the right thing in contacting the coastguard, it is far better to be safe than sorry and we do not have any problem in attending calls that turn out to be false alarms with good intent’.

There have now been 24 calls for the Whitstable volunteer lifeboat crews so far this year. The seal was not in any difficulties and quite content to stay offshore!

Notes to editors

Whitstable RNLI Lifeboat Station was established in 1963 by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and is one of 237 lifeboat stations around the shores of the UK and Ireland. The volunteer crews provide a maritime search and rescue service for the Kent coast. They cover the area between the Kingsferry Bridge on the Swale, in the west, around the south-eastern side of Sheppey and along the coast through Whitstable and Herne Bay to Reculver in the east and outwards into the Thames Estuary.

The station is equipped with an Atlantic 85 lifeboat named Lewisco, purchased through a bequest of a Miss Lewis of London who passed away in 2006.

She is what is known as a rigid inflatable inshore lifeboat, the boat’s rigid hull being topped by an inflatable sponson. She carries a crew of four people.

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  • Chris Davey, Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, Whitstable Lifeboat Station.
    07741 012004/ nativephoto@hotmail.com

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For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789




RNLI/Chris Davey

The Whitstable Atlantic 85 Lifeboat 'Lewisco' purchased through a bequest of a Mrs Lewis of London who passed away in 2006.She is what is known as a rigid inflatable inshore lifeboat, the boat’s rigid hull being topped by an inflatable sponson. She carries a crew of four people. Picture: RNLI Whitstable.

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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