Christmas day rescue role

Lieutenant Commander Andy Drodge

Lieutenant Commander Andy Drodge - Credit: Archant

A SIDMOUTH man will swap family festivities for saving lives on Christmas Day.

Lieutenant Commander Andy Drodge is Commanding Officer of HMS Gannet and part of a search and rescue aircrew ready to spring into action on Tuesday.

HMS Gannet, the Royal Navy’s search and rescue unit based in Ayrshire, Scotland, is the UK’s busiest helicopter search and rescue unit.

While residents will be opening presents and tucking into their turkey, former St Nicholas Primary School and Sidmouth College student Andy will be poised to respond to emergencies over an area of 98,000 square miles.

“We sincerely hope that we won’t be required,” said the 43-year-old, who is the crew’s navigator.

“But if the worst, whatever that may be, should happen, then we are here to help.

“We never know what we’re going to encounter when we report for duty,” he continued.

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Andy joined the Royal Navy in 1989 and has served around the world.

He will be returning to the Devon for new year to have a belated festive celebration on December 31 with his mum and dad, who still live in Sidmouth, as well as his brother who is also in the navy.

He is also looking forward to catching up with the many friends he still has in the area.