Sam's story

Sam Burbidge, a self-confessed landlubber is a trainee crew member from Ilfracombe. Taxi driver by day, Sam and his fiancée have two young children (2 years and 9 months old) who keep them both fully occupied when not at work. Or so you’d think.
Ilfracombe trainee Crew Member Sam Burbidge

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

As challenging and rewarding as those two roles are, Sam also finds time to volunteer as a member of the crew at Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station. Giving back to the community in which he has lived for most of his life - that’s the way Sam sees it.

I recently got signed off as shore crew which means I’m able to help launch the lifeboats. We’re an essential part of the crew - you can’t launch the lifeboats without us.

Sam first got interested in the RNLI when his dad worked as an engineer on the search and rescue helicopters at RAF Chivenor. His French teacher used to be on the crew - Sam remembers him running out of class when his pager went off. ‘As I got older,’ reflects Sam, ‘I thought volunteering would be a rewarding and challenging thing to do.’

Sam says: ‘I’m on probation which means I’m working towards being competent crew on the D class. There’s a lot to learn. I’ve got my pager and I attend every shout, to help launch the lifeboat and recover it after a rescue.

‘I’ll never forget my first shout as shore crew. I was walking along with a friend, another volunteer, and both our pagers went off at the same time. We looked at each other as if to say “what’s that noise?” Then we realised and thought “It’s real, we’re actually doing this!”’

Sam’s high point was getting signed off as shore crew. The low point was waiting to recover the lifeboat at 2am in sideways rain. ‘It’s not fun, says Sam, ‘but it’s all part of it,’

We’ll be following Sam’s progress over the coming weeks and months as he learns the ropes down at the lifeboat station.

Follow Sam's progress

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Ilfracombe’s inshore and all-weather lifeboats during training with rocks in distance
The first time my pager went off: Sam
I was on my way to pick up my son from nursery the first time my pager went off. It took me by surprise - I had to take it out of my pocket and look at the screen for a moment for it to sink in.
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Sam Burbidge from Ilfracombe stations vlog
My training highlights: Sam
‘Just talk into the camera,’ they said. ‘Act naturally.’ If I’m honest, this is scarier than anything I’ve done so far. But I’m here because I want to tell you about my training highlights and my hopes for the future. 
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Sam looking out to sea with all-weather lifeboat in distance
Sam’s journey continues: my crew training
Hello again! Did I tell you that before I can become a fully signed up member of the crew I have to show that I’m competent?
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Ilfracombe Shannon class lifeboat the Barry and Peggy High Foundation 13-09 being recovered by her launch and recovery tractor after an evening exercise.
My training journey: I’m officially part of the shore crew
So here I am, at the beginning of my journey with the RNLI.
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