New LOM for Ilfracombe RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Rich Legg has taken on the voluntary role of Lifeboat Operations Manager at Ilfracombe RNLI. For him, it is far more about the people than the boats.

RNLI/Gudrun Limbrick

Rich Legg, Ilfracombe RNLI's new Lifeboat Operations Manager

Ilfracombe RNLI has appointed a new Lifeboat Operations Manager (affectionately known as LOM) and unusually for the lifeboat station, he’s not really a boat person. He has a far more land-based love.

Talking with Rich Legg, Ilfracombe’s new LOM, it doesn’t take long before he mentions cars. Classic cars in particular are his passion. And it’s a serious passion – he’s won trophies for his restoration work on old cars.

So if it isn’t boats, what brought him to Ilfracombe lifeboat station? “I was looking for something to do that was worthwhile, some way of giving back to the community”, Rich remembers. “I saw the new Shannon arrive in Ilfracombe in 2015 and I liked the look of it of course – who wouldn’t? – but what really made an impression was the camaraderie I saw amongst all the crew. I knew I wanted to be a part of that”.

“I started in the fundraising team and enjoyed that but, looking for a new challenge after a few years, joined the shore crew and quickly took on the role of Deputy Launching Authority. There are several of us DLAs and we each commit to 24 hour shifts. During those shifts we have to stay within a ten minute drive of the lifeboat station in case there is a shout. When a shout happens, it is my role as DLA to take the information about the shout from the Coastguard then, looking at the nature of the service and the conditions at the time, decide which boat we should launch. I then alert the volunteer crew. Within minutes they are here and heading off to the rescue. It is a great challenge each time – the adrenalin starts immediately and it is a big responsibility to make the right decisions in the heat of the moment.”

Rich talks with great pride of his role of a DLA and, despite taking on more responsibilities as LOM, he is not giving up his DLA shifts.

For nine years, the station had Chris Wallis as the Lifeboat Operations Manager. Leigh Hanks stepped in temporarily when Chris left. “They are two people with great experience, Rich says. “And they both have enormous knowledge of boats. These are big shoes to fill!”

The Lifeboat Operations Manager, a voluntary role but a key role in the functioning of RNLI Ilfracombe, carries the overall responsibility of all the sea-going operations side of the lifeboat station. In shouts, these responsibilities are handed to the DLAs when the LOM is not around but the responsibility for making sure that the station functions smoothly and efficiently, and that the crew members are all happy and doing what they should be doing remains with the LOM.

“It is a challenging role,” Rich admits. “And I am still getting my head around it all but Leigh and Chris, as the former LOMs, have given me invaluable help and support. One of the biggest challenges is also one of our greatest assets – our crew members. We have about 40 volunteer boat and shore crew members without whom we couldn’t do any rescues of course. We have a massive range of people – in terms of experience, their availability, and everything else. To have such a diverse group of people is a big strength for us – but it can also be a bit of a juggling act!”

“I really appreciate the support I have had from the whole station both in terms of taking on the LOM role and for me personally. It is so nice to have a big group of friends that you can rely on.”

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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