Tony's story

Volunteer Tony Ward is one of the most experienced volunteers at Arranmore Lifeboat Station, where he’s been a constant presence for the last 40 years.
RNLI Arranmore Lifeboat Operations Manager Tony Ward

Photo: RNLI/Arranmore

‘As the station’s Lifeboat Operations Manager everything comes through me,’ says Tony. The Coastguard will call to request a launch. I page the crew and tell them what they’re going to and where they’re heading.

‘We train at the station and I oversee a lot of that. I make sure that the coxswain, Jimmy, is happy with the crew roles we’ve got. We need to train crew up to the standard that Jimmy and the RNLI require. Newer crew members learn a lot from the more experienced crew.

‘There are all walks of life on our crew – accountants, doctors, even a priest. When they arrive, some people don’t know one end of the boat from the other. Training is so important. It makes such a difference. It’s not just the new arrivals. Training is vital for all the crew.

‘Safety is our number one priority at all times. If you sustain an injury on the lifeboat, you’re not much good to the casualty because the crew would have to stop and deal with you first. Crew safety and training go hand in hand.

‘We have the best kit available to us. If it wasn’t for the fundraising, we would find it very hard to keep going. We’re very well-provided with crew kit by the RNLI – if something gets damaged, we get a replacement immediately.

‘I’ll be on call this Christmas. It’s part of the job. Everyone accepts that. Lifeboat families have a lot to put up with at times. The crew can be called away for 24 hours at a time, anytime, day or night. And if it’s bad weather, it’s always a worry for their families, who are always very supportive. There are generations of lifeboat people here. Their families sacrifice a lot.

‘Without the support of the public and their donations, the RNLI would not be what it is today. We wouldn’t be able to respond at all times. And we wouldn’t have the best kit and equipment to work with.’

 

When they arrive, some people don’t know one end of the boat from the other.