Volunteers' Week 2021: Spotlight on HM Coastguard volunteers and training
It’s Volunteers’ Week 2021 (1-7 June) and we’re celebrating our volunteers who proudly serve Her Majesty’s Coastguard.
The Coastguard Rescue Service is made up of several thousand volunteers as well as over 300 Coastguard Rescue Teams across the UK, with our volunteers giving up their time for free and playing a vital role in delivering our dedicated 24/7 search and rescue service.
From wake-up calls in the middle of the night responding to incidents to volunteering on birthdays, Bank Holidays and at Christmas, our volunteers – along with full-time staff members – are always on call to help keep people safe at the coast and at sea.
Ahead of the beginning of the UK summer, our Coastguard Rescue Teams, as usual, have been preparing for much-improved weather and likely increased footfall to coastal areas. From rope rescue scenario training to stuck in the mud exercises at the beach and coastal patrols, we have been getting ready for every eventuality at the coast.
We’ve also been continuing our work to support our emergency service partners, through mutual aid – which has included, in recent months, assisting in making sure COVID-19 vaccination clinics run smoothly as well as manning COVID-19 testing sites.
Ross Greenhill, who is Coastal Operations Area Commander for HM Coastguard and based in Aberdeen, is actively involved in delivering training to Coastguard Rescue Officers.
Ross said: “We’re all so proud of the effort and dedication our volunteers show on a daily basis and they really are at the front and centre of everything that we do.
“Through our comprehensive training programmes and assessments, our staff and volunteers are equipped with the appropriate and necessary skills and knowledge to respond to emergency incidents at the coast.
“Our volunteers develop their skills during training and exercises and then put this knowledge and experience into practice when attending real life emergencies.”
Willie Clark (pictured second from right in image above), who joined as a volunteer in 2015 and is now Deputy Station Officer of Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team, said: “I can speak for myself and volunteer colleagues in my team in saying that we’re all immensely proud to volunteer with HM Coastguard. There’s a huge sense of pride in helping people and serving the local communities in which we live and work.”
Willie, who combines volunteering with his work for Scottish Water, added: “Volunteering with HM Coastguard is rewarding, exciting and of course challenging when we are attending to incidents at the coast, but – throughout – teamwork and comradery are so important. I’m lucky to work with and alongside some great people. From a training perspective, it’s really good that we get the opportunity to continue to enhance and develop our skills.”
Louise Maclean (pictured second from left in image above), who joined the service as a volunteer with the Stornoway team in 2019 and works for a local pharmacy, said: “Volunteering with HM Coastguard is one of the best things that I’ve done. We’re a really close-knit family and know we have a vitally important role to play in helping and supporting our local communities. As a team and as individuals, we really enjoy training and exercises – it gives us the perfect chance to fine tune our skills and make sure we feel comfortable and confident in responding to a wide variety of incidents at the coast.”
Elly Fletcher (pictured third from the left, passenger side of vehicle, in image above), who also started volunteering with the Coastguard two years ago and works as a manager of an art gallery, added: “We’re looking forward to engaging with the public over the course of this coming summer and playing our part, with the goal of hopefully helping to make everyone’s visit to the coast an enjoyable and memorable day out for the right reasons.”
Rob Fielder (pictured directly above), who has been a volunteer with Inverness Coastguard Rescue Team for two and a half years and combines his day job with volunteering, went on to say: “It’s a genuine pleasure to represent my local team. We really enjoy what we do and everyone is committed to the cause, which does involve balancing work, life and family commitments. There’s a strong spirit in our team and we all look out for each other, during training sessions and when attending incidents.”
If you are interested in volunteering opportunities with HM Coastguard, then please be advised to contact your local area management team to find out if there are any opportunities. You can also find out further information by visiting the following link: https://www.gov.uk/volunteer-as-a-coastguard/what-to-expect-as-a-volunteer.