I am sometimes asked why I wanted to join the RNLI.

I work from home and had wanted to do something to help others in the community.

When I saw that my local station (Teddington RNLI) were looking to recruit and train crew I realised that this was something that seemed right for me. As someone who has enjoyed sailing and boating throughout my life it seemed like a natural fit. I had undertaken a few RYA courses over the years and spent a fair amount of holiday time on both sailing boats and motor cruisers. As I lived only a few minutes from the station then I was well placed for one of the key volunteer requirements - namely being able to respond instantly when on call and get to the station, quickly and safely within about three minutes. In the early days you are asked to go to the station and attend training, so you can see whether there is a good fit from both sides.

I really liked it from the first visit. The local lifeboat team are from a wide variety of backgrounds, which is great. My own background had been in management and marketing with a fair amount of time spent working for Coca-Cola around the world. There is a great team spirit and of course it is nice to know you are there to help people in need on or around the water.

One of the areas where I have helped with training is on local river knowledge and designated evacuation points, where our boats can meet with an ambulance should advanced medical support be needed. Working under the guidance of one of our helms, I went out and surveyed our ‘patch’ and we agreed which locations were the best to use. Evenly spaced evacuation points, with good road access as well as safety for the boat and crew at all states of the tide were the key considerations. This document has been used over the past three years as part of our training on local area knowledge, which is critical in ensuring we can safely and quickly carry out search and rescue operations in our area. The work that I did has recently been updated by a new member of crew, Toby Banks, with a web-based version that works well and has an integrated mapping function.

Most of our training materials are provided from the RNLI centrally, but several aspects are developed based upon local needs and the training is mainly delivered by the local team. I have been with the RNLI for over three years now and still love being a part of such a great team. We get a pretty broad range of ‘shouts’ in our patch and I have been involved in lots of different situations. My longest shout was about four hours, where we responded to a call to assist with a vulnerable person who was standing on the handrail of a local bridge and threatening to jump. It was November, so great that we have such good PPE (Personal protective Equipment) to keep us warm.

I particularly enjoy the more boat related shouts and have helped tow several vessels to safety and in one case where a boat’s anchor was fouled we ended up lifting an old wood burning stove off the river bed along with his anchor!

Looking forward, I should soon finish the final elements of my crew assessment and may be able to start helm training in the months ahead.