Get On Board with the Maryport Inshore Rescue Team
Although there are lifeboats along the coast in Workington and Silloth, they are a 20 minute journey away which, to put it bluntly, “can be 20 minutes too late.”“You never know what’s going to happen and where, so you need to be set up and fully equipped for whatever’s going to happen, at any time,” said Station Officer, Mike Messenger.
Set up in 1978, they rely solely on grants and generous donations from the public. Cumbria Community Foundation have been an ongoing support, meanwhile their new station, which was built in 2014m was funded by Britain’s Energy Coast. Mike attributes this to the support of former MP Tony Cunningham and his wife, Anne, he explained: “It took us 11 years of meetings and campaigns to get where we are today, but we didn’t give up.”
On 23 and 24 February, the team will celebrate the annual Go Orange Day, a national event set up to raise awareness of independent lifeboat stations around the UK. Events held at the station and The Wave in Maryport will help to raise the vital funds needed to keep them afloat.
Mike continued: “It can be challenging, we operate differently to the RNLI because it’s the same people doing everything to keep this place running. It’s hard work, but it’s good.”
As well as operating the lifeboat, the team are trained in Swift Water Rescue and run a smaller boat and two emergency vehicles, for responding to inland flood and swift water rescues and searches. Callouts can range from anything from five to 20 in a year, with last year totalling 23. Training Officer, Gary Hampson said: “You don’t know what you’re turning up to when you get that call to get you out of bed, you don’t know what you’re turning up to until you’re there, which makes it all interesting.”
The team were heavily involved in rescue efforts in the floods of both 2009 and Storm Desmond in 2015. As well as Maryport, they covered Aspatria, Cockermouth, Penrith and Carlisle, with some members out for five days straight. Gary said: “The floods were mentally challenging as well as physically…but the relief on people’s faces when you turned up at the door to bring them out.”
And it wasn’t just the people who were pleased to see their boat, Gary added: “I think we turned into Noah’s Ark at one stage, one particular boat load had two parrots, two dogs, a mouse, even a spider in. You don’t know what you’re going to but it was nice for us to be there.”
Meanwhile back in their day jobs, the team boasts a wide range of trades between them, from plumbers to printers. Some have previous affiliations with the sea, although many do not. They all, however, harbour a desire to be part of an organisation which offers an essential service to the community and ultimately, saves lives.
Mike said: “We are always looking for people to join us, from all walks of life, male or female. You just need to be fit and able, with a drive to succeed.”
It can be challenging and time consuming, with a great deal of training provided to ensure they are prepared for every eventuality. But they promise there’s nothing like that initial adrenaline rush when you get the call at 2am.
Gary added: “Each one is potentially someone’s life, that’s what you’ve got to think about at the end of the day.”
Follow @maryportrescue on Facebook for updates. For more information contact 01900 812225 or visit http://www.maryportrescue.co.uk