Two new helms lengthen the long arm of the lifeboat at RNLI Stonehaven
Two North-east boys in blue are pulling on their yellow wellies as they celebrate qualifying as helms at RNLI Stonehaven.
Volunteer crew members Fraser Robertson and Malcolm Kinross have both completed the rigorous lifeboat helm assessment last week and can now take command of the station’s Atlantic 85 lifeboat the Jamie Hunter.
Fraser started his RNLI voluntary service at Stonehaven in 2015, with Malky joining up three years later.
The pair, who both joined the police force over 17 years ago, joined as shore crew, moving on to boat crew before deciding to train as a helm.
Stonehaven locals, the two new helms are now responsible for taking command of the inshore lifeboat when at sea.
The RNLI describes the duty of a helmsman as using “utmost endeavours to safeguard and rescue the lives of those in danger, whilst having regard for the safety of their crew”. It is an important and responsible role often involving making life or death decisions in challenging conditions and is achieved after many hours of training.
Like almost all RNLI crew, Fraser and Malky are volunteers who take time out from their everyday lives to help those in trouble at sea whenever the call comes.
Malky said: “I have no nautical background and joined the RNLI to meet people from my local community, learn about a maritime subject and also give something back to the community through saving lives at sea.
“The training has been of a high standard and very intense. As well as an in-depth course at the RNLI college at Poole in Dorset, there have been regular exercises both afloat and with the crew in the station at our training sessions on Thursdays evenings and Sunday mornings.
“The crew at Stonehaven are dedicated, professional and a really good laugh and I’m proud to be part of that crew.”
Fraser said it was good to have been able to go through the experience together.
“We both put ourselves forward as trainee helms at the same time and it gave us an opportunity to bounce off each other a bit as we progressed,” he said.
“It is really good to see how much support both the station and the crew gets from local community and that forms a large part of the satisfaction for me.”
RNLI Stonehaven training co-ordinator and fellow helm Keith Gaskin said: “This is a great achievement for the guys as it’s a rigorous and exacting process to qualify as a helm.
“They are already experienced and skilled members of the boat crew and will be tremendous helms for many years to come.
“The training and development of the crew is vitally important in making sure we are always ready to launch, saving lives at sea.
“The guys are also now in a position to help train the next generation of crew, as they develop their skills and share their experience and expertise.”
The two appointments brings the current number of helms at RNLI Stonehaven up to six.
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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