From seasick 16-year old to fully trained coxswain at RNLI Ilfracombe

Lifeboats News Release

Stuart Carpenter celebrates 30 years as volunteer by being passed out as a fully trained coxswain on Ilfracombe's all-weather lifeboat

RNLI/Gudrun Limbrick

Stuart Carpenter in the Lifeboat Station at Ilfracombe
Stuart joined the volunteer crew shortly after moving to Ilfracombe from Milton Keynes. As a 16-year-old, he wanted 'to do his bit' but, as the nearest sea to Milton Keynes was a two hour drive away, he knew nothing about boats, and when he did try to get on board, he was horribly seasick. That was thirty years ago. He is now not only a fully qualified coxswain, but he also owns his own lifeboat!

Because of his seasickness, he started as a member of the shore crew with no intention of getting on a lifeboat, or any other boat for that matter. He then became head launcher and tractor driver, ferrying the lifeboats down into the water.

He then managed to overcome his seasickness when Ilfracombe had a need for more trained boat crew. Once he was on a boat, there was no stopping him. He not only became an active member of the volunteer lifeboat crew but progressed to the position of helm (coxswain of the inshore lifeboat) and assistant mechanic. He is now not only a very active crew member, but also has a non-sea-going role as Systems Technician which involves the maintenance of all the kit - including the lifeboats and the tractors. Now that he is a coxswain, there really are very few roles they he hasn't undertaken in the RNLI!

But Stuart has no regrets: 'Joining the RNLI was the best thing I ever did!' he says. 'I can’t imagine not doing it. It takes a lot of commitment and training but it’s incredibly rewarding and well worth it. For a man who didn't know one end of a boat from the other, I have learnt a lot! I have even bought my own lifeboat.' The Hampshire Rose is a former RNLI lifeboat on which Stuart runs trips from Ilfracombe Harbour in the summer months. That is, when he can find a bit of spare time from the current lifeboats...!

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Gudrun Limbrick, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer at Ilfracombe RNLI, on 07713430327 or [email protected]

About RNLI Ilfracombe

There has been a lifeboat in Ilfracombe Harbour for nearly 200 years. We currently have 49 volunteers, one paid member of staff and two lifeboats – the small, manoeuvrable ILB (inshore lifeboat) named The Deborah Brown II and the large, self-righting ALB (all-weather lifeboat) called The Barry and Peggy High Foundation. Our current lifeboat house was opened in 1996. We provide a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week search and rescue 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 over 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.

RNLI/Gudrun Limbrick

Stuart Carpenter (left) with the Inshore Lifeboat

RNLI

The all-weather lifeboat, The Barry and Peggy High Foundation

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.

Categories