Saving lives at sea is a family affair as two father-son crews have first shouts
Two of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) latest volunteer crew members will be able to spend Father’s Day with their dads on Sunday - even if they get called to a rescue.
After ‘proudly’ following in their fathers’ footsteps, the pair have joined their dads on board lifeboats for the first time as active crew members.
Volunteers Dave Needham, 50, his brother Pete, 45, and Dave’s son Ryan’s pagers all sounded, calling the trio to Eastbourne’s lifeboat for the first time as a family unit to rescue two people stuck on a yacht which had run aground last month.
20-year-old Ryan said: ‘It was great having all the Needhams out on one shout.
‘Dad inspired me to sign up and getting the chance to help people with him is such a great feeling – I was proud to be out with him and my uncle.
An RNLI crew member of 33 years, Dave said: ‘It was a special moment going out together for our first shout. He’s new to it, but he did everything right, and I’m very proud to see him follow in my footsteps.’
On Father’s Day, the Needhams are planning on getting together for a family meal, but the pagers will be on, Dave said: ‘They’re always on but even if we get a shout, at least we’ll be able to spend the day together.’
Also keeping it in the family are father and son crew members Clive and Reece Hancock of Sheerness RNLI.
The pair took to the station’s all-weather lifeboat on Saturday 4 June to respond to an emergency call from a boat in difficulty in Queenborough Harbour.
Along with four other crew members, Reece, 20, and dad Clive, 50, towed the pleasure cruiser with three people on board to safety before being called out again to help a catamaran.
Clive said it was a proud moment taking to the water as a team for the first time since Reece became an active crew member.
He said: ‘It felt good to be out together. He only got his pager the week before, and then we had our first shout – he got himself out of bed pretty quickly!’
‘He makes me proud. He fits in with the crew and it’s not like he was playing around with dad, he’s just another crew member making his own way.’
Reece said it was inevitable that he would join the charity that saves lives at sea having grown up around lifeboats and even being christened on board one.
‘I feel proud to be following him into the RNLI. I’ve always known I wanted to join as soon as I could, and dad first joined when he was 18 and I joined when I was 17, so it was nice to live up to what he did,’ said Reece.
On Sunday, the pair will be getting together with Reece’s grandparents for the day, but both are prepared to have the celebrations cut short if their pagers go off.
Far from the only families in the RNLI, crews across many of the RNLI’s 238 lifeboat stations will be celebrating Father’s Day with their fellow lifesavers.
But with heatwaves forecast, the RNLI’s volunteer crews remain ready to respond to those in distress 24/7, whatever the day or family occasion.
The RNLI’s key safety advice for anyone visiting the coast is:
· Float to Live: If you find yourself struggling in the water, just lean back and use your arms and legs to help you float. Wait until you can control your breathing, then call for help or swim to safety.
· Choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags
· Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the coastguard
To donate to the RNLI’s lifesaving work go to GoDonate.org/RNLI
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
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries