2 June 2017

Meet 6 extraordinary lifesaving volunteers

To celebrate Volunteers' Week (1-7 June), meet six lifesaving volunteers - just a handful of the thousands of extraordinary people who give their time to help save lives at sea.

1. Pat Mucklow

RNLI Fundraiser and former Lifeboat Crew Member

Pat from Kyle of Lochalsh RNLI has been there and done that - crew member to station treasurer, secretary, shop volunteer and fundraiser. She was the first woman to join the Mallaig lifeboat crew in 1960.

Photo: RNLI/Joan Murray
‘You never know what you are capable of until you try’
Pat Mucklow
RNLI volunteer

Why volunteer?

‘You never stop to think of the personal dangers of the water - there is a job to be done. You’ll find the most awe-inspiring moments of your life out at sea and meet some very interesting people on the way. You never know what you are capable of until you try.’

Special moment

‘I was the first female to gain a boatman’s licence in Scotland and I was soon going out with the fishermen in all weathers. Early one morning, the maroons went off. Grabbing oilskins, I jumped ashore to see what was happening - the lifeboat crew were a man short, so I stepped forward and we were away. I was just one of the crew and I proved I could handle a boat.

'Even at my age, I’m still able to help. One day a year, I sit at our local supermarket - it’s amazing what you can do with just a bucket and smile!’

See our full interview with Pat here.

2. Sam Burbidge

Ilfracombe RNLI Trainee Lifeboat Crew Member

Sam is training to be a crew member at Ilfracombe Lifeboat Station and is also a taxi driver and father-of-two.

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams
‘Volunteering is a rewarding and challenging thing to do’
Sam Burbidge
RNLI volunteer

Why volunteer?

‘My French teacher used to be on the crew. I remember him running out of class when his pager went off. As I got older, I thought volunteering would be a rewarding and challenging thing to do.’

Special moment

‘I’ll never forget my first shout. I was walking along with a friend, another volunteer, and both our pagers went off at the same time. We looked at each other as if to say: “What’s that noise?” Then we realised and thought: “It’s real, we’re actually doing this!”

Then there’s the tougher shouts - waiting to recover the lifeboat at 2am in sideways rain. It’s not fun, but it’s all part of it.’

Read more about Sam and his training here.

3. Andrew Lowe

RNLI Community Safety Volunteer

Andrew’s a full-time graphic designer and in his spare time he spreads our water safety messages and volunteers at Tenby Lifeboat Station.

Photo: RNLI Tenby
‘Everyone is willing to help you fit in’
Andrew Lowe
RNLI volunteer

Why volunteer?

‘Because I was asked! I like talking boats!’

Special moment

‘The social side of being an RNLI volunteer was something that has been a very pleasant surprise.

'When you join, it seems like everyone is willing to help you fit in, give practical help and advice, and pass on all that they know.’

4. Lisa Levins

Clogher Head RNLI Lifeboat Crew Member and Lifeboat Training Coordinator

Lisa’s a hospital medical representative and is currently on maternity leave with her first child. She also makes time to volunteer at Clogher Head Lifeboat Station.

Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard
‘To bring a loved one home is my main reason for doing it’
Lisa Levins
RNLI volunteer

Why volunteer?

‘To be able to bring a loved one home is my main reason for doing it. Once you get involved, the lifeboat station becomes your second home - in a good way. We are all volunteers and everyone has different commitments and different amounts of time they can give. I totally encourage anyone to get involved. Lifeboat stations are open to anyone.’

Special moment

‘I became the first woman to join the crew in my village. I was also lucky enough to march in the 1916 commemorative parade in Dublin in 2016, representing the RNLI - a very proud moment indeed. We really shone brightly in our yellow gear and wellies.’

5. Yusuf Ali

SeaSafe Volunteer Lifeguard, Bangladesh

Fifteen-year-old Yusuf works as a photographer in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. When he’s not taking photos on the beach, he’s helping to save lives as a volunteer lifeguard with SeaSafe.

SeaSafe is Bangladesh's first professional beach lifeguard service. The RNLI has been helping to develop the service since 2012 through its partnership with the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB).

Photo: RNLI/Harrison Bates
‘I feel really proud’
Yusuf Ali
SeaSafe volunteer

Why volunteer?

‘In 2012, I saw the RNLI lifeguarding training in Bangladesh - and I was very interested. Even though I was too young to do the lifesaving, I attended the training every week. I kept practising the skills and, after 1 or 2 years, I become a volunteer lifeguard.’

Special moment

‘After taking the training, everyone knows me as a lifeguard, a lifesaver, a surfer. I feel really proud about that. I am able to save someone’s life, and that’s been the main achievement in my life.’

6. Ailill Finlayson

North Berwick RNLI Shop Volunteer

Despite sight and hearing impairments, Ailill has volunteered with the RNLI for 18 years. He also works in Garvald Edinburgh's Mulberry Bush Shop.

Garvald Edinburgh is a Scottish charity offering creative opportunities and support for people with learning disabilities.

‘It’s important to help the sea community’
Ailill Finlayson
RNLI volunteer

Why volunteer?

‘It’s important to help the sea community and I like being part of life at the harbour. My great grandfather was a member of the lifeboat crew, and my neighbour Graham Thorburn was involved with the RNLI for many years - he introduced me as a shop volunteer 18 years ago when I left school.’

Special moment

I am happy that I have been able to volunteer for so long and received an RNLI Excellence in Volunteering Award.’


We couldn’t do it without you

An amazing 95% of RNLI people are volunteers - including 4,800 lifeboat crew and more than 22,000 volunteer community fundraisers. Then there are the volunteer lifeguards, and thousands of dedicated volunteers who raise awareness, give safety advice and help in our museums, shops and offices.

A big thank you goes to all our fabulous volunteers.


Feeling inspired?

We are always looking for people, from all walks of life, to help us save more lives at sea - whether you’re keen to become a crew member or fancy your hand at fundraising.

If you’re curious about how you can help the RNLI and what experiences volunteering could offer you, we’d love to hear from you.

Take a look at the different ways you can volunteer for the RNLI or search our volunteering vacancies.