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Busy first day on the job for RNLI Penarth’s newest lifeboat helm

Lifeboats News Release

Nine years to the day after first receiving his crew pager, RNLI Penarth volunteer James King attended his first service calls as helm of Penarth’s D-class lifeboat, responding to two callouts and coming to the aid of seven people during a busy Sunday for the crew.

RNLI/Tom Quinn

James King (right) and crew after the first shout of the day

Lifeboat helms are senior members of the crew who take command of the lifeboat while afloat during a rescue or exercise. They are responsible for the safety of all on board the lifeboat and for executing safe and effective rescue operations. Rigorous training and assessments are required before a crew member can qualify as a lifeboat helm.

James has been a crew member at Penarth for several years before taking on the role of helm. Volunteering as lifeboat crew and attending medical emergencies even inspired a career change for James in his day job, and he has now been a member of the ambulance service for seven years.

The first callout of the day came at 11:00 as the crew received reports of a fishing boat which had become grounded on a sandbank in the channel. Penarth’s D-class lifeboat launched, and the crew checked the safety of the four people on board the fishing vessel. The lifeboat brought an adult and a child back to the lifeboat station while the remaining two people waited with their boat to refloat on the tide.

At 18:30 the crew were called out again, tasked to assist three people cut off by the tide at Lavernock Point. Both of Penarth’s lifeboats launched, along with Penarth Coastguard Rescue Team, and found the three people on a small patch of dry land beneath the cliff as the tide came in around them. The three people were brought safely back to the lifeboat station on the D-class lifeboat.

James King, volunteer helm at RNLI Penarth Lifeboat Station, said:

“Having gained experience over the years as a member of the volunteer crew, I am delighted to be the newest helm at RNLI Penarth and look forward to joining the complement of other helm crew members.

“It was great to put all the training into practice and achieve a good outcome from both callouts, ensuring all the casualties were safe and well.”

Jason Dunlop, lifeboat operations manager at RNLI Penarth Lifeboat Station, said:

“We would like to congratulate James King on becoming our newest D-class helm. The journey to becoming helm requires a lot of training and dedication, and James will be a great asset to the station, further enhancing our ability to respond to the call to save lives.”

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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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.