New Lifeboat Helm’s first service in command brings two men and a dog to safety

Lifeboats News Release

Broken down canal boat aground in the River Douglas.

two men shaking hands with RNLI insignis on their clothes

Chris Penrice / RNLI

AT Ian Bruce congratulates new Helm Will Bridge at Lytham on 28.04.2022

Lytham St Annes Lifeboat Station’s latest volunteer inshore lifeboat (ILB) Helm completed a tricky job in his first service in command. Will Bridge qualified as a Helm (the volunteer crew member in command of the inshore lifeboat), at the end of April 2022 after dedicated and rigorous training. His first service in charge of the inshore lifeboat occurred on Tuesday 31 May 2022 when a 42 foot (12.8m) canal narrow boat broke down and as a result ran aground in the River Douglas.

The lifeboat volunteers were paged at 1:22pm and the inshore lifeboat set off in a choppy sea to find the casualty which had been reported as aground at the Millennium Link canal which joins the Ribble to the Lancaster Canal. Will’s crew in the inshore lifeboat were Nigel Browning, Elizabeth Gee and Clive Holland.

With no sign of the canal boat at the Millennium Link, further information came in from Preston Dock that the vessel had left there to head toward the Leeds-Liverpool canal which joins the River Douglas at Tarleton. Using his expertise and local knowledge, Will decided the logical place to find the canal boat was therefore in the River Douglas and this proved to be the case. The boat was found with an anchor out over her stern and her bow aground, fighting the fast ebb tide then surging down the Douglas.

In the difficult conditions, the Helm took the inshore lifeboat MOAM alongside and transferred lifeboat crew member Clive Holland across to assist the vessels two occupants. The lifeboat was then moved to the bow of the casualty to attach a line. This allowed the boat’s bow to be pulled into the channel and afloat. Once this had been achieved the anchor was recovered and the lifeboat took up the tow, upriver against the ebb tide, to the Douglas Boatyard at Hesketh Bank.

After safely mooring the casualty and ensuring her crew were now OK, the inshore lifeboat took back crew member Clive before heading home to Lytham to be recovered by the Shore Crew shortly after 4pm. The lifeboat was then returned to her boathouse to be checked, washed and refuelled.

A spokesman said, 'It was an excellent service by Will in his first time in command of the inshore lifeboat on a rescue. All his time, hard work and dedication to achieve this position has paid off and the Station now has yet another excellent Volunteer Helm.'

A RNLI ILB with four crew on board

David Forshaw / RNLI

Lytham St Annes ILB heading to launch on service on 31.05.2022
A canal narrow boat is being towed by an ILB

Lytham St Annes RNLI

The narrow boat is towed by the Lytham St Annes ILB on 31.05.2022
An ILB with 3 crew on board is alongside a larger boat

Lytham St Annes RNLI

The Lytham St Annes ILB alongside the canal boat
four RNLI Crew Members look to the camera over the top of an ILB

David Forshaw / RNLI

The ILB Crew after their return from service from left Clive Holland, Elizabeth Gee, Will Bridge, Nigel Browning

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