"I can remember my first day as a volunteer coastguard as if it was yesterday."
Paul Wood, now the deputy station master at Skegness, said it was a hot summer's day about six years ago and an eight-year-old boy had been reported missing at Chapel Point.
"There were three of us on duty and we eventually found the boy by the waters edge about one-and-a-half miles away at Trunch Lane.
"He had just wondered off and when we found him he was exhausted.
"When we reunited him with his anxious family and I can remember members of the public clapping.
"Lost children are the emergencies that keep us the busiest - with nine reported the most in just one day.
"We haven't lost one yet but when you have children of your own it's always emotional."
Skegness Coastguard Rescue Team are now recruiting for six new volunteers with "a strong desire to make our coasts safer" to join their busy team, following a busy summer.
The team have been sent to 71 coastguard incidents since April this year – an average of one call-out every two days.
It's a big commitment, including regularly attending training sessions as well as emergency incidents. However, it's one the current volunteers have not regretted.
Newest recruit Ian Hyde, who only joined last November, said he had wanted to ‘give back’ to the community.
“I like learning new skills and joining the coastguard as there is lots to learn,” he said. “From operating safely in the water, casualty care and searching for missing people to rescuing people in difficult situations, it is really varied.
“I enjoy giving my time to help people visit the coast safely and my first summer with the coastguard was busy but very rewarding. If you are interested at all, then get in touch, it’s worth it.”
Skegness beaches see high tourism levels in the summer as people descend on the coasts from all across the UK and the vast majority of call-outs this summer involved incidents related to this, according to the coastguard.
This has meant a lot of worrying moments for parents, with CROs regularly being sent to find missing children.
Inflatables getting caught in the wind and carrying their occupants out to sea is another regular concern. Many visitors to the area also often forget – as does the occasional local – that the coast is tidal and can quickly change. Skegness CRT are often called out to respond to incidents of people cut off by the tide.
Coastguard Rescue Teams are made up entirely of specially-trained and equipped volunteers who are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to respond to a wide range of emergency incidents, including people in the water, mud rescue incidents, search and rescue, helicopter operations, and vulnerable missing person searches.
Officers can be called out in all-weather conditions, and may have to work in hazardous situations as well as carry out physically demanding tasks.
Station Officer Colin Peet, the longest serving member of the team with 16 years’ service under his coastguard belt, said it is a challenging but incredibly rewarding role.
“I have lived in the area for 22 years and I joined the coastguard to help people in need,” he said.
“I enjoy the challenges and individual types of call-outs we encounter when rescuing people. I also enjoy managing the team to ensure we are ready at all times for whatever incident we might face and encouraging new recruits to fulfil their potential by learning new skills.”
The team, despite the busy summer, has still found time to boost their skills by training to become qualified search team leaders. It will allow the team to effectively manage a search using concentrated methods and techniques.
The training will be finalised next month with an exercise to allow the team to put what they have learned into practice. The team are also set to finish their off-road driving qualification with a practical 4x4 driving assessment in October. It is designed to provide the CROs with training to successfully and safely drive on a beach.
Deputy station officer Paul Wood added: “I joined the coastguard to help others and to feel part of the community. I enjoy managing the team to allow an effective and competent rescue team at Skegness. I enjoy training and rescuing people when they need us most.”
WHAT OTHER TEAM MEMBERS HAVE TO SAY
Johnathan Render, Skegness CRO, said: “I have been in the team since September 2017. I joined the team to help people in their time of need and find new challenges to test myself and learn new skills. I enjoy working with the helicopters and the first time I went flying was in the coastguard helicopter. The taskings I get the most satisfaction from are night-time searches, as it creates a number of challenges and is always rewarding when there is a positive outcome.”
Damian Cunningham, Skegness CRO, said: “I have been in the team for four years. I joined the team as I wanted something more exciting and to feel part of the community. I felt I could bring certain skill sets that could enhance the team at Skegness. I enjoy the variety of the taskings as you never know what could be asked of you. The camaraderie of the team plays an important part of the role we carry out with working as one team.”
Russel Crane, Skegness CRO, said: “I joined the team in January 2017 as it sounded exciting and something new. At the time of joining I had lived in Skegness for 17 years and prior to joining I did not know what the coastguard did. The camaraderie in the team is great and the team works very well together. After four years in service, the role is as exciting as the first day I joined and I am always learning something new.”
HOW TO APPLY TO BE A COASTGUARD
Anyone interested in applying must send a note of interest via e-mail including your name, age, current address, contact number and current employment status to: [email protected] by Friday 15 October 2021.
Include a few details about yourself and why you want to be a CRO.
Those wishing to apply must be available to attend training courses at Skegness on:
10th January 2022 to 14th January 2022; 29th January 2022 to 30th January 2022; 26th February 2022 to 27th February 2022
For further information, visit: https://www.gov.uk/volunteer-as-a-coastguard/what-to-expect-as-a-volunteer*In an emergency on the beach call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.