Role Reversal at Littlehampton RNLI as Bea Prepares for Christmas Saving Lives at Sea

RNLI volunteer Bea Homer is getting ready to spend her first Christmas on call at Littlehampton lifeboat station - after swopping roles with her partner who was previously on the crew for nine years.

A woman with blonde hair wearing an RNLI blue polo shirt holds a certificate and beams at the camera.
Bea Homer, who first raised money for the RNLI aged 10, has continued her fundraising ventures. Credit Beth Brooks. Earlier this year she took part in the charity’s Mayday appeal with her partner and another crew member, undertaking a hundred mile cycle and a 5K run. More details on this story can be found here: https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2021/may/10/littlehampton-couple-respond-to-the-rnlis-mayday-call
It means Bea, who joined the station as shore crew in February, will have her eye on her pager during the festivities, while partner Ian Foden, who stood down from being RNLI crew earlier this year, will take over duties at home preparing the Christmas roast.

Becoming crew has been a dream come true for Bea who grew up in Selsey. She used to watch the maroons (flares that were used before pagers) go up to alert the town’s lifeboat to launch and was so impressed that at ten years old she undertook a sponsored walk to raise funds for the RNLI.

When she moved to Littlehampton last year she finally got the chance to join the crew, starting as shore crew, who help launch and recover the lifeboat, and now as a trainee crew member on the lifeboats.

‘I didn’t imagine at ten years old I would end up at 44 bouncing around at sea!’ said Bea, who works as a management accountant for the NHS. ‘I was a bit worried and anxious to start with, but as soon as we exited the harbour it was just amazing, you can’t describe that feeling. So from that point I knew I definitely wanted to join the trainee crew programme’.

Partner Ian has already had to get used to Bea dashing off a moments notice: ‘A couple of weeks ago the pager went off just after I was serving up the fish, so I left him to sort out the rest of the dinner and when I came home bless him, he had put both of our dinners into the oven to keep them warm and waited for me’.

The couple have family coming over for Christmas this year, but it will be a new experience with Bea now on the crew:  ‘It will be the first year for me where I’ll be leaving the turkey and leaving him to it! It is very much, you go, you drop whatever point of the roast you are at. You just have to go.’

‘He is incredibly supportive, it’s fantastic.  I don’t think you can volunteer in this role without the absolute support of your partner,’ added Bea. ‘You might be out for a meal or you are at home doing something together with the family, knowing they just support you going and abandoning them basically!’

‘It’s an amazing feeling knowing that yes you are abandoning the Christmas roast, but you are going to help someone who needs your help. There’s no question you just drop everything and you run,’ said Bea.

Bea is one of thousands of RNLI volunteers who will be on call this Christmas and is asking the public to support the charity’s Christmas appeal to save every one. 

With thousands of volunteers around Ireland and the UK, each RNLI crew member signs up to save every one from drowning – the charity’s mission since 1824. This Christmas many will leave loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble at sea safely returned. Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period.

These rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round. 

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit: RNLI.org/Xmas


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Female RNLI crew member in full kit beams at the camera.

Photo: RNLI

Bea Homer who will be on call for Littlehampton RNLI for the first time this Christmas.
Littlehampton RNLI crew smile from their orange Atlantic 85 Lifeboat.

Photo: Beth Brooks

Bea Homer on board the station’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat.

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.