Faces of the RNLI: Anstruther’s Martin is keeping the media message on track
Martin, who is now a Regional Media Officer for Scotland in the RNLI’s Media Engagement Team, describes how he was inspired to join the RNLI as a volunteer crew member after driving his best friend to the station when their pager had sounded.
‘I took him to the station, watched him board and then the boat launched. His father, who was also on the crew, approached me after the shout and asked if I wanted to join and help on the shore.’
He duly obliged and has loved being part of Anstruther Lifeboat Station for more than a decade. During this time, his station has made national headlines on numerous occasions for various different stories.
Besides his latest role as Regional Media Officer, Martin works as part of the shore crew operating his station’s Talus and New Holland tractor.
‘Both machines are integral parts of our launch and recovery’, explains Martin who later went on to create a Facebook page for the station and because of its success was elected volunteer lifeboat press officer (LPO) in 2016.
‘As a volunteer press officer, I thoroughly enjoyed working with the media and got a real buzz out of seeing my work published in regional and national newspapers.’
In 2018 when the opportunity arose to act as press officer for Saving Lives at Sea and join the News Desk at the RNLI Support Centre in Poole, Martin took the decision to give up his full-time job in sales and embark on a media career with the RNLI.
Now as Scotland’s Regional Media Officer he covers all of Scotland and its 46 lifeboat stations.
‘We are fortunate here in Scotland to have over 50 excellent volunteer lifeboat press officers who do a great job in telling the stories of volunteers and lifeboat stations, says Martin.
It is one of Martin’s responsibilities to work with Scotland’s volunteer LPOs to assist them in maximising the opportunities for publicity and showcasing the dedicated hard work of the RNLI in Scotland.
Martin is deservedly proud of his 10-month move from the resort on the north shore of the Firth of Forth, to the RNLI Support Centre in Dorset to become the press officer for the BBC documentary, Saving Lives at Sea.
‘It was one of the biggest PR campaigns for the RNLI that year and it provided me with a challenge and a great opportunity to further develop the skills and experience I had gained as a volunteer LPO and put it into practice as the full time press officer working on the project.’
Martin, who was born in Edinburgh but moved to Anstruther at the age of seven, says he’s always loved the town and is privileged to be able to call it home.
Anstruther originated as a fishing village and is home to the Scottish Fisheries Museum plus one of Scotland’s best kept secrets. What was to have been a nuclear bunker for the government became a tourist attraction in 1993.
It’s evident that he is enjoying his new role and the fact that no 2 days are ever the same.
Says Martin: ‘I love meeting and working with RNLI volunteers. As a volunteer myself for over 10 years now, we have a shared interest and I really enjoy hearing their stories and working with the LPOs to help them in their role.’
Martin is supported in his role by Regional Media Manager Gemma McDonald as part of the Regional Media Engagement Team.
‘Gemma has been great and a very useful sounding board as well. She was in my role previously which is a huge help to me as I get to know each station and the volunteers. Gemma is very supportive of my voluntary commitments at Anstruther and allows me the opportunity to cover my volunteer role from the office in the station, should the pager sound!’
One stand-out story that Martin covered, which made national headlines, was that of 17-year-old Anstruther schoolgirl Danielle Marr who was given permission to leave class and her lessons for rescues.
‘It was an important story for me because it celebrated not only the opportunity for connections between the school and future volunteers but also stood as an example of the range of volunteers we have here at the RNLI.’
Martin says it’s difficult to categorise the most important aspect of his work but playing his part in supporting volunteers and raising awareness of their work is, he believes, one key aspect.
‘By publicising the work of RNLI volunteers, we raise awareness of what we do and gain the support we need to continue operating.’