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Hemsby Inshore Rescue Service: Gerard Roadley-Battin

PUBLISHED: 12:25 06 November 2015 | UPDATED: 16:10 06 November 2015

Hemsby lifeboat crew profiles. Gerard Roadley-Battin.

Hemsby lifeboat crew profiles. Gerard Roadley-Battin.

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As part of the Mercury campaign to help Hemsby Inshore Rescue Service raise the money it needs to keep saving lives offshore and on the Broads, we will be getting to know the crew, who are all volunteers, who keep the service running not just out on the water but behind the scenes too.

This week, we spoke to second coxswain, Gerard Roadley-Battin.

Gerard used to pop up to the lifeboat station, in Beach Road, back in 1998 to lend a hand and see his good friend who was second coxswain at the time.

“One day they asked ‘why don’t you just join? You always up here!’ and the rest was history,” he said.

Now, 17 years later, Gerard – who lives in Norwich with wife Marion - uses his vast experience and knowledge to help the crew and assist the present coxswain and other second coxswain with the operational running of the station. As his day job, Gerard is an arts editor for an international media company.

Speaking about his most memorable rescue, the 58-year-old showed that not every rescue ends on a serious note.

“There have been a number of rescues over the years that stick in your mind, but these tend to be the ones that do not have happy endings,” he said.

“But we did have one many years ago, where a frail old lady on medication was on holiday with her son, staying in a caravan.

“The son popped out, but on his return in the evening found that she was not in the caravan, he panicked and searched outside and couldn’t find her. The son contacted the police who conducted a wider search, nothing found.

“Coastguard search teams were paged to help widen the search area, nothing found.

“So Hemsby lifeboat was paged to cover the sea for a close to shore search, up and down the coast line, nothing found.

“Finally, Wattisham Search and Rescue helicopter was requested to provide air search and thermal cover, and the police helicopter were also requested for additional air and thermal cover. This went on for hours into the night till dawn.

“On finding nothing, the search teams decided to start again and search the caravan only to find that the lady had been sitting on the toilet all night and had stayed there as there was a lot of strange noises outside, from the helicopter which was trying to find her!”

Gerard enjoys his position with the lifeboat, especially watching the crew develop. “It’s brilliant to be able to see the service go from strength to strength,” he said. “And to watch the crew develop into valuable lifeboatmen and women.”

“The service is so important, because the sea is the last great wilderness. If you get into trouble on land you have vast resources, even the public, to help you in your hour of need.

“At sea you don’t have as many, and that is why it is important to keep supporting your local lifeboats, we are all on call every minute of the day throughout the year to respond to any distress or call for help. We are an independent lifeboat at Hemsby, and we rely on the support from the public to help us keep operational.”

He added: “If anyone is interested in becoming a member of Hemsby lifeboat and is prepared to give up your free time for training, be available to respond to call outs at any time of day or night, and work as part of a team then give us a call and ask to speak to the Coxswain.”

To find out more about Hemsby Inshore Rescue Service, or to put yourself forward as a volunteer, get in contact by calling 01493 731641 or emailing contact@hemsbyinshorerescue.org.uk

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