To volunteer for any charity takes something special: but to risk going to sea in a lifeboat in all weathers is something else
Joe Plant is a freelance artist and animator in the music industry who now finds himself mastering the layout and functions of all the gear in an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat. His decision to volunteer hinged on a chance conversation with Stuart Clark, himself a recruit of less than a year who is now a full crew member. The two met in the course of Joe’s wind-surfing activities. ‘It’s an amazing experience,’ he enthuses. ‘I’m learning new things all the time. It’s not just inspiring – it blows you away.’
Lucy Green works in the Rye Harbour Stores and lives in the village with her daughter and son. Last November she attended the annual memorial service in the village church at which the sacrifice and courage of the 17 crewmen of the Mary Stanford lifeboat, all of whom lost their lives when it capsized in 1928, are celebrated. She remembers feeling that she wanted to be part of that, whatever ‘that’ might turn out to be. ‘It’s a thousand times better even than I thought,’ she says. ‘The camaraderie is like nothing else: we’re all part of the same family.’
For Izzy Bolton volunteering was a more obvious step since her father is the current station lifeboat operations manager, her mother is a former crew member and her grandad was a helm in his time. She is studying for Maths, Biology and Psychology ‘A’ Levels and at 17 meets the minimum age requirement for a recruit in the RNLI. She is hoping in the future career to be a paramedic.’ So far I have been challenged in so many ways,’ she explains. ‘I have already learnt so much from knots to first aid.’
Megan Hollingsworth, also 17, was drawn into volunteering by her friend Izzy and had never previously even being on a boat. Fitness is important to her and once she has Personal Training and Sports Massage diplomas under her belt, that will be the area in which she makes a career. She admits that the thought of fitting in with a whole set of new people was daunting, but reflects: ‘While it’s all been completely new I’ve really enjoyed getting to know how the RNLI works. I’m looking forward to getting out on the boat and playing my part in helping people in trouble.’
Four very different roads have led these recruits to the Rye Harbour lifeboat station. In their commitment and enthusiasm they embodied the spirit that will enable the RNLI to continue saving lives at sea in the future.
Image Credits: Kt Bruce .