New Northerly Coxswain for Aith

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI lifeboat stationed in Aith, Shetland is to be led by local man John Robertson.

RNLI/Daniel Lawson

31 year old John Robertson will now lead the volunteer crew of the RNLI Charles Lidbury

The RNLI lifeboat stationed in Aith, Shetland is to be led by local man John Robertson.

He has been appointed by the lifesaving charity as Coxswain of the RNLI Charles Lidbury, the regular lifeboat stationed in the village - and will lead the volunteer crew at the most northerly lifeboat base in the UK.

31 year old John has been the vessel's full time mechanic since August 2013, lives in Aith with his family, and was selected for promotion by the RNLI after formal assessments and interviews. He has taken on the role under supervision, until his final Coxswain training is completed in the coming months.

His years of service with the RNLI have included being called out to several notable incidents at sea. John's first ever 'shout' was to the fatal sinking of the scallop boat 'Diamond' near the West Burrafirth pier in March 2014, when RNLI volunteers managed to rescue a surviving crew member from the water.

He was also part of the team that attended the rescue of the Edward Henry, the crab fishing boat that was hit by a large wave west of Sumburgh in March 2017 - smashing wheelhouse windows and knocking out engines and electronics. John and the rest of the RNLI Charles Lidbury crew spent around 14 hours at sea, escorting the damaged vessel to safety through force 9 winds and heavy seas.

John says that the 'time was right' for him to apply for the job of Coxswain, and is 'feeling good' about the prospect of managing the RNLI station in Aith. His predecessor, Adam James, has moved to the north of England - to take up a job as Coxswain with the RNLI's operation on the Humber river near Hull.

John says: 'Aith is a settled station with an experienced crew already in place. It was the trust of that crew that encouraged me to apply for the job of Coxswain, and that trust is essential. Aith is a relatively quiet station, but our call outs tend to be serious, lengthy and often in testing weather conditions. We need to work well as a team in order to save lives at sea - and I'm really looking forward to stepping up and leading that team of committed local volunteers'.

'Time is of the essence whenever we launch the RNLI Charles Lidbury, as we try to launch our lifeboat within seven minutes of our pagers going off. That can be quite a tie. I'll tend not to go any further away than Bixter, unless cover has been pre-arranged. But this will be a good job for me and my family, and allow me to be home about - pager depending - in between all the paperwork and maintenance that comes with running a lifeboat station.'

John is originally from Voe, but has a family connection to the lifeboat through his wife Kayla - who's grandfather Frank Johnston served as Lifeboat mechanic for many years, and attended the famous rescue of the crew of the Juniper trawler in February 1967. Johnston's service that day earned him the RNLI 'Thanks of the Institution' inscribed on vellum.

Notes to editors

Aith lifeboat station has been operating for over 80 years, and is the most northerly in the UK. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to: https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/lifeboat-stations/aith-lifeboat-station

RNLI media contacts

Daniel Lawson, Lifeboat Press Officer, 07765560695, daniel_lawson@rnli.org.uk

Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 01738 642986, 07920 365929, martin_macnamara@rnli.org.uk

Gemma McDonald, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 01738 642956, 07826 900639, gemma_mcdonald@rnli.org.uk

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789

RNLI/Charlotte Cranny-Evans

RNLI/Charlotte Cranny-Evans

RNLI/Daniel Lawson

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.

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