'We're always on call' - Lifeboat helmsman describes duty at Christmas

Sue Wharton Weaver and the lifeboat crew waving a people on Hemsby beach

Hemsby Lifeboat are on call around the clock. Even at Christmas. - Credit: Ella Wilkinson

As they tuck into their turkey on Christmas Day, a group of volunteers can be forgiven for checking their pagers facing the possibility of dropping everything to help others in need.

Brave lifeboats crew across our region know their duty comes first when it comes to the festive period.

Chris Batten, helmsman for Hemsby Lifeboat.

Chris Batten, helmsman for Hemsby Lifeboat. - Credit: James Weeds

Chris Batten, helmsman of Hemsby Lifeboat, said being a crewmember at Christmas can be a challenge.

"The commitment to the preservation of life will always be top of the list for our active crew.

"Christmas is a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate, but it can also be a time of challenge for many and often the most vulnerable in society.

"For this reason, like all our sister lifeboats along the coast, we will ensure that cover continues throughout the festive period.

"We ensure that we can respond quickly if others find themselves in harm’s way."

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Like a lot of lifeboat crew the volunteers at Hemsby have young families.

"It is important to us that families are also looked after during this season," Mr Batten said.

"But the desire to spend quality time with our children and families is always on the brink of being disturbed by the need for our skills at sea or on the Broads.

"An interesting dynamic of life as a member of the crew is the way our families become part of the service too.

"For example, if you speak to the children about what mum or mad do on the lifeboat, they will show great understanding and acceptance that even on Christmas Day, mum or dad might need to go out to help others.

"I know that many of the children - when the pager goes off - will drop whatever they are doing to help mum or dad to get their kit ready.

Some of the crew at Hemsby Lifeboat.

Some of the crew at Hemsby Lifeboat. - Credit: James Weeds

"Being on the lifeboat is like being part of a family and the family all pulls together.

"We do ask for volunteers to cover the most vulnerable times over Christmas and new year.

"Crew embrace their role and will remain on service throughout the period.

"They do this because it is unthinkable that we would not be there when we are needed most."

Hemsby Lifeboat has received funding to pay for a new softrack launch and recovery vehicle. Photo: N

Hemsby Lifeboat has received funding to pay for a new softrack launch and recovery vehicle. Photo: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Rescues made by Hemsby Lifeboat in 2021

Over the past year, crew at Hemsby Lifeboat have been on call around the clock.

In October, their new vessel - Sea Weaver - was called into action the day the station received it to a woman in trouble

Also in October, Hemsby volunteers saved eight people, including a 92-year-old, from a sinking boat on the River Bure.

In July, the crew participated in the search for a missing person.

Also in July, Hemsby assisted a family of six near Reedham.

In June, a woman was rescued after she fell into the Broads.