RNLI St Helier recruitment drive attracts 80 Islanders

MORE than 80 Islanders have responded to a recruitment drive to get the St Helier Lifeboat Station fully operational by the spring, the RNLI has said.

The RNLI station at the Albert Pier was opened to potential volunteers Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (20119585)
The RNLI station at the Albert Pier was opened to potential volunteers Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (20119585)

Staff from the UK and local volunteers opened the station at the Albert Pier on Friday and Saturday to explain what sea and shore-based roles involve.

Julie Rainey, from the RNLI’s south-east region, said 21 Islanders have submitted formal applications for crew roles, with 61 others keen to support the station in other ways.

The charity’s search for volunteers began last month when the St Helier crew decided to break away from their UK bosses after an eight-month dispute.

‘We were really chuffed with the amount of people who have come forward, and the range of skills and interests they have between them all has been really good,’ said Ms Rainey.

‘We have been lucky because people here are so aware of the coast and the RNLI service. Many people have told us they have always fancied joining the station but they just never got round to it until now.

‘People were able to come to the recruitment open days and have a chat about what is involved and the time and commitment expected of them. We have had members of the St Catherine crew here and staff from the UK for them to chat to.’

The dispute began in April when the crew walked out following the dismissal of coxswain Andy Hibbs. They returned to duty in June after he won his appeal and was reinstated.

Nonetheless, relations continued to suffer and on 13 November the crew announced their intention to go independent.

The George Sullivan all-weather lifeboat remains tied up at the station until a new crew is ready, while lifesaving cover is being provided by the St Helier inshore lifeboat, St Catherine Inshore Lifeboat and Jersey Fire and Rescue.

Meanwhile those supporting Mr Hibb’s crew have launched the Jersey Independent Voluntary Lifeboat Service with the aim of setting up their own rescue service.

Ms Rainey says the RNLI will process the expressions of interest received and make a further announcement about the future of the St Helier Lifeboat Station this week.

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