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.