Andy recalls a decade of volunteering for Sidmouth Lifeboat

I WAS counting up the other day how many callouts I ve been on in 10 years and it came to exactly 100, said Andy Carmichael, who has had to stand down from active duty as second coxswain for Sidmouth Lifeboat.

I WAS counting up the other day how many callouts I've been on in 10 years and it came to exactly 100," said Andy Carmichael, who has had to stand down from active duty as second coxswain for Sidmouth Lifeboat.

"Most of them are in the summer, I got to 99, then found one in December which made it 100."

Andy, whose has worked as a planning officer for East Devon District Council since 1996, has to give up as a crew member on Pride of Sidmouth because he has just turned 50.

"I will miss going out to sea and the camaraderie, but I was one of the people who insisted in bringing the policy in. By the time you get to 50 you need to stand down. It is a very energetic job and from the age of 45 you have to have a medical every two years."


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Andy and friend Perry King joined at the same time in August 1999. They both sea kayaked and Perry knew Alan Stevenson, senior coxswain at the time, who encouraged them to start from scratch and train as lifeboat crew members.

Andy has encouraged others to join, including Mark Williams, chief executive at The Knowle, who attended a talk he gave at the council offices.

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Andy remembers many incidents over the past decade, but it is those where he has rescued people from drowning or who have been stranded by the sea, that spring to mind.

These include the rescues of an elderly man, pulled out of the surf at Chit Rocks, and a father and son stuck on the rock stack off Ladram Bay after their inflatable boat "popped".

"The elderly man would have drowned had we not picked him up. It is very satisfying if a callout ends with a positive result," he said.

"I've done all sorts of things, from searches, towing boats to rescuing people cut off by the tide and we have had a number of suicides in that time.

"It is hard if we are sent out and come back empty-handed, but you know you have done your bit."

A chaplain is on hand to offer support after difficult callouts, and, says Andy: "We all talk with each other and we are all very close and the support we get from each other is probably the best.

"I enjoy going out to sea and would like to stay involved, hopefully as a deputy launch authority."

As such he would decide whether it is safe to launch the lifeboat if Portland Coastguard calls it out.

"There are circumstances when it is too dangerous, such as if it is blowing a gale from the South East.

"We have to launch and recover the boat off an open beach and safety is paramount.

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