Young recruits join Sea Palling lifeboat through new training scheme

Sea Palling Inshore Lifeboat has been awarded £10,000 to set up a new junior crew. Young crew member

Sea Palling Inshore Lifeboat has been awarded £10,000 to set up a new junior crew. Young crew members, right, Ben Parker 15 and, left, Katie Moore 17 on the boat with coxswain Paul Dale and some of the senior members at the front.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The next generation of lifeboat men and women are being prepared early for life at sea after a Norfolk rescue team launched an innovative training scheme.

The Sea Palling Independent Lifeboat has established a junior crew who are now being geared up to take the helm when the current 'ageing' crew steps down.

The early recruitment scheme is the brain child of former coxswain Mick Clarke and his successor Paul Dale, who wanted to safeguard the future of the voluntary rescue service, and give youngsters in and around the village a chance to take part in an alternative activity and learn new skills.

The project has been kick started with a grant of just under £10,000 from the Sheringham Shoal Community Fund and three teenage recruits have already been taken on with the hope of building the junior team up to eight.

Mr Dale said it was nice to pass on his lifesaving expertise to the next generation but the project had been a two way process.

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'The crew is quite elderly, shall we say, and we don't have the skills of computers and that sort of thing,' he added. 'They (the youngsters) just look at a laptop and get on with it so they're bringing their own skills in as well.'

The recruits have been joining in regular training sessions with the crew both on land and on board the Lion Heart lifeboat, and will be put through tests to gain full qualifications so they can be sent on emergency calls once they turn 18.

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Becky Ingham, crew member and committee secretary, said: 'They'll have everything. They'll know the boat, have all their certificates, be first aid trained and be able to go.'

'The lifeboat's been a really important part of the community in Sea Palling for years so the fact this has happened to take it forward and make it a bit more sustainable is really exciting,' she added.

The need to recruit more volunteers became pressing last year when crew numbers dropped, sparking fears the service may no longer be viable. But it is hoped the lifeboat's future will be secured by adding young blood to the team.

The training scheme has gone down well with the recruits who are already keen to step up to the senior team.

Junior crew member Eric Pike, 17, said: 'I really enjoy being part of the lifeboat crew. It's really interesting and I am learning new things all the time.

'I really look forward to Sunday mornings when we train. I hope to go on to be a full crew member when I have completed the training.'

News of the scheme has so far only been spread by word of mouth, but volunteers are now working on a presentation to take into local schools and colleges to sign up more recruits, while teaching youngsters about beach safety and the work of the lifeboat.

? The team is also looking for new adult volunteers. Anyone with experience of boat handling is particularly welcome, but there are plenty of opportunities available to all both on land and at sea. Anyone interested in joining should email Lesley Bellerby via

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