Volunteer Crew Promoted to Command RNLI Lifeboat
Ian Alder and Michael Chichester have qualified after 10 years of volunteering, commitment and training to become RNLI Helms.
Starting off as shore crew like everyone else who wants to volunteer as crew, they then qualified as boat crew and are now Helms. It was a long journey and with the support of their family and friends and RNLI colleagues they will now be able to take command of My Lady Anne during rescue scenarios.
Both Mike and Ian joined the Lifeboat volunteers in 2007, when the rescue service was operating as the Portishead Lifeboat Trust which was started in 1996 as an independent rescue service. After responding to an advert in the local paper asking for anyone who lived in Portishead to come and join the charity, they joined to help save lives at sea. Both Ian and Michael wanted to get to know more local people and had always loved the sea so applied and joined the Charity together. Now, after 10 years of commitment to training and keeping the local community safe on the water, they are Portishead’s newest RNLI inshore lifeboat Helms who will have responsibility for My Lady Anne and her crewmembers when they go afloat.
‘All lifeboat volunteers start as shore crew which includes a lot of time with a bucket of soapy water and a sponge and learning the art of making good tea.’ Jokes Lifeboat Operations Manager, Dave Slack. ‘It takes a lot of time, commitment and training to get where Ian and Mike are now. They have both demonstrated a high level of determination and competence during their Helm development period and have both now passed their assessments with flying colours. This achievement has very much been a team effort here at Portishead and both of our new Helms have had the full support of the crew throughout their training. We are all very proud of what they have achieved and I am personally proud of the whole team. I know how much it means to Ian and Mike, to be RNLI Helmsman, and I also know that they both consider it a huge privilege to hold this important position’.
One of Michael’s first call outs was in 2008 when an elderly couple had decided to take out a dinghy sailing boat from Clevedon. In force 5-6 conditions the boat capsized leaving the couple in the cold water and unable to right the boat again. The lady was also believed to have a disability which meant she had limited movement so was suffering with hypothermia by the time the lifeboat crew arrived. After recovering the casualties on board, the Coastguard Helicopter arrived on scene to airlift them to safety. Michael says, ‘Since joining the Charity I have not looked back. For me it is a great achievement to reach the required standard and to become an RNLI Helm. It is also a huge honour to be part of the Portishead team and the bigger RNLI family.’
Ian’s first call out came also in 2008 when it was reported that a person was in the water in the River Avon which also included working closely with the HM Coastguards both on the shoreline and their Helicopter crews. He says ‘I am proud to have taken myself way out of my comfort zone to complete the training and pass the command assessment. You never get used to the pager going off, it still makes me jump every time’.
Both Michael and Ian have wives and a young family and it is with their support that they have been able to complete the rigorous and thorough training that the RNLI provide for their volunteers. Training is completed at both the RNLI HQ in Poole and on site in Portishead at the state of the art Lifeboat Station, which was opened in April 2015 when the RNLI adopted the crew from the Portishead Lifeboat Trust. My Lady Anne, the Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat based at the station, is equipped to the highest standard and also maintained by Ian who has volunteered for the additional role of Lifeboat Mechanic. The RNLI provide everything that the volunteers need to the highest standard so that they can go to sea in all weathers and continue to save lives at sea.RNLI notes to editors
Images are all ©RNLI Portishead
- Mike (centre black jacket) Mike Roberts (Left) Chairman, Hugh Davies RNLI Assessor Trainer and Dave Slack Lifeboat Operations Manager
- Ian Alder (red jacket central) with fellow crew volunteers from Portishead
- My Lady Anne Launching from ramp during assessment
- Mike Chichester recovering My Lady Anne
For more information please contact Helen Lazenby, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07800 595995 or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
For more information on the RNLI please visit www.rnli.org.uk. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI Press Centre www.rnli.org.uk/press
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 230 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 200 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved 140,000 lives.
A charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SCO37736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
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Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland