Harwich RNLI’s newest helms take command within days of passing out

Lifeboats News Release

Within days of passing out as volunteer helms, Meredith Scanlon and Antony Charles, took command of Harwich RNLI’s inshore lifeboat for the first time, in separate incidents.

RNLI/Antony Charles

Antony Charles, one of two new helms for Harwich RNLI

The first service fell to Meredith when on Tuesday 14 September, she took command of Harwich RNLI’s Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat Tierney, Harvey, and Sonny Reid in a multi-agency search for a missing person, which lasted more than five hours, and resulted in a positive outcome.

Working closely with multiple coastguard rescue teams, Walton and Frinton RNLI, Harwich RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat Albert Brown, Essex Police, Fire service, and a coastguard rescue helicopter, Meredith took it in her stride and reflected on her first service:

‘I found my first ‘shout’ quite exhilarating and daunting at the same time, especially having to head up to Halls Boatyard in the Walton Backwaters. It was inspiring for my first service to be a multi-agency one, working alongside two other lifeboats, rescue helicopter, multiple coastguard rescue teams, police, and fire service. A real pleasure to work alongside the Walton lifeboat, not many people get to work alongside all these agencies on their first call as a helm.’

Antony Charles didn’t have to wait long either for his first service as helm, coming just two days later at 6pm on Thursday 16 September, when the volunteers of Harwich RNLI were requested by UK Coastguard to launch the inshore lifeboat to investigate a yacht, with a lone sailor aboard, experiencing engine trouble. Once on scene it was clear the safest course of action was to take the yacht under tow to the nearby Suffolk Yacht Harbour, where repairs could be made.

Both Antony and Meredith were highly experienced crew members when they started on the helm programme, in which the skills they already possessed were honed with a focus on command and management of an incident.

Antony went on to say:

‘After being on the crew for over eight years I felt the time was right to use that experience and knowledge to progress and become a helm. After a year of intensive training, including a week at the RNLI College in Poole, and a significant number of assessments, I qualified as a helm on Tuesday 7 September alongside Meredith. I am now able to take command of the inshore lifeboat on search and rescue missions at sea.’

Harwich RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager, Peter Bull commented:

‘It’s been a pleasure to see both Meredith and Antony pass out as helms after all the hard work and dedication they have put into their training, which no doubt put them in a good position for their first services.’

Having two more volunteer helms to call on is a great asset for the station. Being a busy station with 98 call outs this year already, Meredith and Antony will no doubt help reduce the pressure on the existing volunteer helms, who have shown great dedication in ensuring whatever the time of day, we are ready to save lives at sea and help those in distress’

Visit rnli.org for safety tips and advice on a range of coastal activities.

Notes to Editors

The RNLI College in Poole is the home of RNLI training where volunteers from across the UK and Ireland are trained to become able crew members. It’s also a hotel, and events venue like no other, where the public can come and stay alongside those volunteers being trained, and often watch the training themselves.People can also book in for a guided tour of the training centre and all-weather lifeboat centre.

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact:

Richard Wigley, RNLI Harwich volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07903424698 or [email protected],

Clare Hopps, Regional Media Officer on 07824518641 or [email protected] or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.

Harwich RNLI

Harwich RNLI’s Atlantic 85 returning to station after service

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.

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Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.