Volunteering? Verb: freely offer to do something . . . and the RNLI needs more people to join the team at Rye Harbour as volunteers. The organisation has just held two open days designed to welcome and inform those who might be thinking of getting involved, but the response was, alas, underwhelming.
Perhaps some people are put off because they are not sure what they are committing themselves to. I spoke with the team on Monday and they are friendly, engaging and passionate and looking both for crew members and ground staff to work in the shop fundraising.
While I was at the station, two women came to offer their services. Samantha Jefferies is a freelance occupational therapist at Harbour Farm. She wanted to volunteer as a crew member and hopes to gain new skills. Jane Hagen has lived her all her life around boats and has many skills to offer. Both share a love of the RNLI and its work. The RNLI provides a 24/7 lifeboat search and rescue service as well as seasonal lifeguards on some beaches.
Tony Edwards is in charge of the station at the moment and he observes that times have changed: in the past all the crew would have been local Rye Harbour fathers and sons, but now youngsters move away to get jobs and there are fewer people to choose from. Other challenges include long-serving crew members reaching their age limit, younger members moving away or going to university and people having to work longer hours and more days in order to earn a living.
If you feel that you could offer a few hours each month in the shop or for general fundraising, or if you see yourself as potential crew, do pop into the harbour station and meet the team – you are certain of a welcome. The lifeboat station is on the left at the end of the road down to Rye Harbour just by the sailing club.
For more information email the station
Photos: K T Bruce