A family affair as Calshot RNLI crewmember celebrates 30 years of service
Calshot RNLI recently saw one of our crew members presented with a long service medal for achieving 30 years of continuous service with the RNLI.
For Mark Laughlin, Lofty to everyone but his mum and dad, joining the crew at Calshot was very much a family affair.
When the station was founded in 1970, his Dad Bryan was one of the original crew and Lofty’s early years involved a lot of time at the station. Lofty said; ‘Back in those days, if I was good and helped out around the station, I might be rewarded with a ride on the lifeboat!’
With studies and a career as a mechanical engineer, his ambitions to join the crew took a back seat. However, on a sailing trip with the then station mechanic Niall McDonald, he received an invite to come down and join crew and never looked back.
Some of his most memorable moments include his very first shout, out to Gurnard in Force 10 conditions, attending an incident on fireworks night which involved multiple casualties and most recently, a shout to the Isle of Wight ferry that had run aground in fog near Cowes.
In his time on the crew, Lofty has held positions including Emergency Mechanic, Deputy Second Coxswain and when the station converted to an ILB station in 2012, become Helm for both of our inshore lifeboats.
Outside of the RNLI, Lofty spent many years in the communications industry, starting off installing cable TV and progressing to fibreoptics. In addition to the RNLI, Lofty has also volunteered as an NHS Community First Responder for 20 years and in 2012, decided to make a career switch and join the ambulance service full time. Joining initially as an Emergency Care Assistant, he went on to qualify as a paramedic in 2019.
Even after 30 years, Lofty is planning to continue to volunteer and in addition to being a Helm is also a qualified Launch Vehicle Driver. Lofty had the following to say about his time in the RNLI; ‘I’ve had the opportunity to work with many amazing people and would do it all again in a heartbeat. There have been moments when I’ve been frightened and after 30 years on the boat, my respect for the sea is stronger than ever.’
Lifeboat Press Officer - Danni Strawford-Jones
Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer - Justyn Leonard
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 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.