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Harwich RNLI volunteer crew attend lifesaving training

Lifeboats News Release

Two of the charity’s newest volunteers recently visited the purpose built RNLI training facility to learn how to survive if the worst did happen on a rescue mission.

RNLI/Sam Bray

Jon Bliss, Leam Donn, Sam Bray

While most vessels will race for shelter when a storm hits, the volunteers of the RNLI will be doing the exact opposite, and heading out into the storm to help anyone caught in it. In such circumstances when equipment and crew are pushed to the limit, things can occasionally go wrong. To help ensure crew safety, they all attend an Emergency Procedures course at the charity’s headquarters and training centre early on in their career.

Leam Donn and Sam Bray, two of Harwich RNLI’s newest volunteers spent a few days at the beginning of October 2022 on the course, learning what to do if the worst did happen, such as a fire on board or a capsize. While they were unable to capsize a Severn Class lifeboat such as the Albert Brown, they did get to capsize and re-right an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat similar to Harwich’s Tierney, Harvey and Sonny Reid along with a D class lifeboat, in a purpose built training pool which includes a wave machine.

On their return, Sam said:

‘It felt like being in a real life situation, jumping off a high platform into the water, allowing the lifejacket to auto inflate before swimming as a group to a life raft, while waves were crashing and being blasted by fire hoses. I feel that I am better equipped to cope now, and have much more confidence in the equipment if a situation did arise, so long as I remember everything is on the wrong side when upside-down.’

Self-confessed lifeboat enthusiast Leam was in lifeboat heaven with every type of craft on show as part of the training/reserve fleet.

Leam said:

‘What has inspired me the most is knowing all this is down to the public’s generosity and the hard work of the fundraising teams. I can’t thank them enough for keeping me safe.’

While at Poole they met up with another volunteer crew member from Harwich, Jon Bliss, who has more than seven years’ service, and was attending the Search and Rescue Navigation course. Conducted both on the water and in a purpose built simulator the students can be given numerous tasks and simulated problems to overcome.

This level of training, ensuring the competence and welfare of volunteers in often atrocious sea conditions, is only possible due to the continuing generosity and support of our community. Be it through the charity box, attending a coffee morning, or events such as the Christmas Fayre, your generous donations help to fund our lifesaving work and train our volunteer crew to the highest standards. The team at Harwich are truly grateful for all your support.

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.

RNLI/Sam Bray

Training pool used for survival training

RNLI/Sam Bray

Atlantic 85 with self righting bag inflated

RNLI/Aidan Gorman

Training Atlantic 85 capsized ready for crew to re-right

RNLI/Aidan Gorman

Training Atlantic 85 upside down with crew preparing to inflate air bag

RNLI/Jon Bliss

Image from inside simulator

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.