Everyone living in Howth knows about the lifeboats. 'You see them in action,' says Alex. 'You can’t miss them'. When there’s a tragedy at sea it affects everybody.
With his dad and brother in the Fire Brigade and another brother in the Gardai, a desire to serve the community is a Hobbs' family trait. Volunteering for the RNLI had long been in the back of Alex’s mind. So it came as no surprise to his family or friends when Alex went along to offer his services at Howth Lifeboat Station.
Realistic about the challenges ahead, Alex is single-minded enough to know he will give it his best shot. He worked as an engineer to save up the money to pay for private flying lessons, which led to a career as a commercial airline pilot. 'If you’re determined enough to do something,’ says Alex, ‘you’ll do it. I suppose I’m one of those people.'
I’ve yet to get my crew pager or attend any shouts. I have been out on the Trent - the all-weather lifeboat. It’s amazing to see both lifeboats working together. At the moment I’m happy just trying to get my head around the inshore boat.
With his 12-month probationary period successfully completed, Alex is now on the road to become a fully-fledged member of the lifeboat crew.
Alex manages to fit lifeboat training around a busy working schedule. He works 5 days on and 4 days off and his flight shifts vary. He relishes the training: 'I get a high every time I pass one of my assessments,' says Alex, 'I get satisfaction from knowing that I can do it.' The ability to train online in his own time, as well as down at the station, helps. As does the fact that if Alex has any questions or concerns he knows they’ll be answered. 'There’s always someone at the end of the phone. The RNLI really look after you.'
'For me, right now, it’s about demonstrating that I have the interest, can prepare for the assessments and can turn up for training regularly - or as often as I can. It’s one thing saying you’re interested, it’s another doing it. You have to have the aptitude. The senior crew - the coxswain, mechanic and others have to be confident in you too.
'I have to get on with the crew and the crew have to be able to get on with me. There's nothing like going out on a Monday night in the pitch black for people to see your true personality.'