On Wednesday 11 October, Tom McGinn officially qualified as volunteer helm, fully trained to take command of the Atlantic 85 B class lifeboat.
Tom joined the RNLI New Brighton as a volunteer crew member at 19 years old and has been with the crew for five years and five months.
During this time he has attended regular training exercises covering technical competence and safe operating procedures, covering everything from boat-handling, search and rescue, navigation, to radar training, radio communications, and casualty care.
An RNLI helm has a particularly important role as they are in charge and responsible for the lifeboat when launching, at sea and when the lifeboat is being recovered and made ready for the next rescue. The helm is also responsible for the safety of the crew onboard and for everything that happens during a rescue.
In his day job, Tom is a pilot boat coxswain on the River Mersey, and has been for the last six years. Tom said, “We have a strong maritime tradition in the family, all working in one form or another at sea or in the industry.
“My dad, after leaving the Navy joined the lifeboat crew and a few years later both my brother and myself joined and my fiancée a year after.
“A personal highlight for me was proposing to my fiancée Emily whilst afloat on an exercise with family members looking on from the shore to witness the proposal. The crew all helped make that incredibly special moment possible.”
When asked how he feels when the pager goes off, Tom said, “There’s always that sense of nervous excitement. You never know what you’re being tasked to. I’m looking forward to the new challenges and responsibilities that come with the helms position and hope I can do the role justice.”
Being part of the lifeboat crew is more than just training and time out at sea, “For me, being part of the New Brighton crew is incredible, I’ve never known a community like it. People from all different walks of life come together to do something amazing – save lives at sea. We all look out for each other, we meet up for coffees and share our lives with each other. I know my crew will be there to support me, doing the long history of New Brighton station proud,” Tom said.
New Brighton Lifeboat Operations Manager, Ian Thornton, said, “The crew is incredibly proud of Tom. Passing as a fully qualified helm takes a considerable amount of effort and demonstrates his commitment to the voluntary role.
“The new position as helm will enhance the station’s role in the RNLI’s mission of saving lives at sea by providing us will an additional member of the station capable of taking command of the lifeboat at sea.”
Image: Tom McGinn in front of the New Brighton RNLI Atlantic 85 B class lifeboat. Credit: RNLI/Lauren Francom