6 February 2015
Robert Midwood, Porthdinllaen
Robert has been a volunteer at Porthdinllaen Lifeboat Station for 15 years. He is a self-employed joiner who works full-time and is happily married with two young children.
How did you get involved with the RNLI?
I was interested in boats from a young age. My father used to own some boats, so growing up I was always down by the docks near Porthdinllaen Lifeboat Station. As I got older, I even had some boats of my own.
About 15 years ago, I paid a visit to the lifeboat station, where the second coxswain asked me if I’d be interested in joining the RNLI as a volunteer. The coxswain agreed that I could start training to become an all-weather lifeboat crew member - but he told me I wouldn’t be going out on any shouts straight away!
I began by training on shore and learning the basic skills of what it takes to be a lifeboat volunteer. In time, I was able to put this into practice and get out onto the water. I’ve been with the RNLI Porthdinllaen crew ever since.
What does your role involve?
Some lifeboat volunteers have specialisms, but my role is very varied and I will help out with anything necessary when we’re out on a shout.
I do anything from working on the deck to navigation, or even taking on the role of the helm. My favourite part of the job is to work on deck though, where I get involved with the boat operations and manual work. That’s probably down to my full-time job!
What is it like for you having a family and a full-time job alongside volunteering?
I like to come down to the station whenever I’m available, but as I’m self-employed and have children of 4 and 5 years old, it’s important that I’m there for my family too. I love taking my wife and kids down to the beach and, although they aren’t quite old enough yet, I’m sure my children will soon enjoy coming out on the water with me!
I manage to meet with the Porthdinllaen crew every Wednesday night, when we go out on training exercises together, and I make sure I’m at the station whenever the call for help arrives.
What can you usually be found doing if you’re not at work or at the station?
I’m a keen cyclist so I like to go out on my bike whenever I have the time. I’ve even taken part in two sponsored bike rides for the RNLI. In 2013, I rode for 168 miles over 3 days, from St Davids Lifeboat Station to Porthdinllaen Lifeboat Station. There were around 20 of us who took part, including my friends, the Porthdinllaen crew and our Coxswain, Mike Davies.
Last year, we made it even harder by cycling for 196 miles! I really enjoyed the experience though and we’re all thinking about doing another sponsored cycle for the RNLI this year.
What’s the best part of being an RNLI lifeboat crew member?
It’s nice to be part of a team and to do something with my time that’s of use and provides help to the general public. I know that I’m making a difference and helping to save lives when I’m out at sea and that’s the most rewarding part of volunteering.