John's story

Dr John Higgie is a Minehead GP and also a volunteer at the town’s lifeboat station, where he’s been involved for the last 30 years.
RNLI Minehead Helm Dr John Higgie

Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

‘Having climbed mountains in the past, I know how important mountain rescue volunteers are. Moving to the coast, it was quite natural I’d get involved with the RNLI. Like mountain rescue, the lifeboats are there to help people who get into trouble.

As lifeboat operations manager, my job is to make sure that the lifeboats are in prime condition and ready to launch. I ensure that the crew are properly equipped and trained to do their job. That’s the most important part of what I do.

‘It’s important that the crew can get to where they’re needed. And it’s vital that when they get there, they know exactly what to do.

‘It’s not just about handling boats, it’s also about dealing with stranded people who are wet, cold or injured. Probably half our call outs are to people who are on dry land. The lifeboat is the only way to get to some of the coastal areas around here. So helping people who have been caught out by the tide or the cliffs is very much part of our work.

‘The dice are loaded in our favour if we’ve got the proper kit, equipment and training. The crew may be out for hours at a time. It’s important they stay warm and can go into the water if necessary. They need kit that can protect them when they go into dangerous places, for example to rescue the occupants of a boat that’s overturned. 

‘If I can go and help with a shout then I’ll go. My colleagues will always step in and look after my patients when I’m not there.’

The dice are loaded in our favour if we’ve got the proper kit, equipment and training.