What’s it like to be an RNLI Volunteer at Wells lifeboat station?
Jessica Curtis, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, chats to fellow volunteers from the lifeboat station and gives an insight of what it’s like to be a part of the station’s One Crew and to give your time to the RNLI, as a volunteer.
Lifesaving depends on people giving up their time and energy – people just like you.
Our volunteers raise vital funds to pay for things like kit and training, to keep volunteer crews safe. We are funded by the generosity of the public which allows us to operate 24/7, 365 days a year.
Lifeboat Visits Officer and Shore Crew, John Tomlinson said; 'We moved to Wells- next-the-sea in 2022 after visiting all of my life, and when I read that the station were recruiting for a Visits Officer, I saw it as a way of getting to know people and getting involved in the wider community. It’s been a fantastic way of meeting new people and making friends.
'Shore crew is where my passion has always been, but due to an injury when we moved, I saw the Visits team as a way of being involved and giving my time to the RNLI, until the time arose that I could train to become Shore Crew. I now do both.
'Our Launch a Memory lifeboat has given me the opportunity to engage with some amazing people, as every name has a story, it’s a huge privilege. It’s so worthwhile and I’ve made some very good friends and work alongside a fantastic team.'
Shop Volunteer and Trainee Deputy Press Officer, Adele Meakin said: 'I had my late husband’s name on RNLI Wells Launch a Memory Lifeboat, and watching the new station being built, I felt an affection for the lifeboat and all who would sail on her.
'After seeing an advert on Facebook for volunteers, it felt right to apply. I love being in the shop and helping people find their loved ones names on the lifeboat, it’s so emotional. I then applied for the Deputy Press Officer role, as I wanted to give more back to the RNLI. It’s lovely to be part of a worthwhile, selfless station community.
Wonderful to meet ‘Launch a Memory’ supporters, it’s so rewarding.'
Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, Jessica Curtis explained: 'I have lived and worked in Wells all my life. Working at the Joules store at Wells beach, I watched the new lifeboat station go up from the ground, and was amazed by the time and commitment given.
'The dedication of the crew is incredible.
'When I began the role I worried that with being a mum and working full time, and having other commitments, I may not be able to juggle it all, but the fantastic thing about being an RNLI volunteer is you give as much or as little time as you can. The training and support you receive is outstanding.
'In my role I get to highlight the lifesaving work of the most caring individuals. You’re surrounded by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
'I’ve never been involved in anything that has given me such a huge sense of pride as being a part of Wells RNLI has.'
Lifeboat Visits Officer, Glenda Foster, said: 'I had not long retired and also lost my husband, so when my friend persuaded me to volunteer with her at our newly built and extended station in Wells-next-the-Sea, it seemed the ideal opportunity to make positive use of the spare time I now had to fill.
'After an easy application process, I had the choice of working in the shop or joining the Visitor Experience Team. I knew I could probably jam the tills with no shop work experience, so I chose to join the Tours Team. The Shop and Visitor Centre were new ventures for the station, so we were all learning together, we were well supported by our team leaders and I soon found myself part of a cheerful, friendly bunch of people from all the different walks of life that make up the station personnel, and I began looking forward to my weekly sessions. All the RNLI asks is a regular commitment, you can do as much or as little as your life allows.'
Glenda, continued: 'So what do we do on the Tours Team? Wells-next-the-Sea has one of the brand new Launch a Memory Lifeboats The Duke of Edinburgh with almost 15,000 names of lost and loved family members inscribed on the decals, that form the letters and numbers on the lifeboat.
'We take sessions to meet and greet members of the public, when the viewing gallery is open, answer their questions or just chat to them about the work of the station, and the ongoing water safety programme. Wells is a very busy holiday destination so we get to meet people from all over the UK and across the world too! We escort booked tours of visitors wanting to see the names of their loved ones, and this can be a very humbling experience, as we share what can be very emotional moments with them.
'Perhaps we can just help them find the name they are looking for, be on hand with tissues or just listen, as they share their memories of that special person who is no longer with them. We do of course have names there for happier reasons, such as golden weddings, so it is not always a sad occasion when we meet with the public, and many of our bereaved visitors do also share funny memories with us that have caused amusement all round. We also escort tours of schools and community groups, and are hoping to extend the number of these we can do once we have more volunteers on board.
'It was daunting having to learn all the information we needed - in the early days I think we were all a little nervous about getting it right, but the Coxswain and crew were amazingly patient, as we bombarded them with questions and have found resources to help us, or taken the time to join some of the tours, especially the school or youth groups. All our visitors have been incredibly supportive and it is amazing to see the respect and affection the RNLI commands.
'So, if you are thinking about volunteering - take that step. You will not be disappointed and you will find it a most rewarding way to use your spare time and skills.'
Wells RNLI has various voluntary roles available:
* Volunteer lifeboat visits volunteers
* Crew/Shore Crew
* RNLI shop volunteers
* Fundraising volunteers
If you would like more information on joining the motivated and enthusiastic team please drop the station a message through their social media channels, pop into the station shop, or contact
[email protected] or 07860200790.
RNLI Media contacts
For more information, please contact Jessica Curtis, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer: [email protected]
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
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries