Volunteer crew at Porthcawl RNLI lifeboat are saying farewell to one of their colleagues. Award winning helmsman, Paul Eastment, who has been a volunteer crewman since late 1997 will not be losing all ties with his fellow crew though.

Paul who became a staff member of the RNLI 13 years ago has been able to maintain his volunteer role at Porthcawl during that period. However, he has just been appointed as Divisional Operations Manager for south Wales and Severn, a position that he has been working towards but one where he feels it is appropriate to resign from Porthcawl crew.

Paul said, ‘In 2002 I started working for the RNLI as an Assessor Trainer, a role that would see me visiting stations across Wales and the Isle of Man and teaching at the RNLI College in Poole. My job was to assess or train volunteer crew members to ensure they are able to operate safely whatever their role, be it crew member, navigator or coxswain of an Inshore or All-Weather lifeboat. This covers all ten classes of lifeboat and the extremely varied launch & recovery methods used at different stations. I have taken part in service calls at all bar five of the twenty-one stations I have been associated with. Thirteen years later, I still go to work every day and enjoy every moment. It is a pleasure to pass on experiences and knowledge that make our crews better at what they do”.

“It is a great shame to lose such an experienced helmsman. We wish him continued success for the future”

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Philip Missen MBE

Paul went on to say, “The highlight of my time as a crew member is undoubtedly being awarded the RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry. During December 2012 many parts of the UK had been badly affected by flooding. Members of the RNLI Flood Rescue Team had been sent to Devon and on the night of 23rd December news came in that a woman had been swept from her car and into the flooded river at Umberleigh. There had been a report of calling for help in the darkness, she had fortunately managed to cling onto an overhanging branch.

With other rescue services unable to help the casualty, Mrs Glover, the RNLI team made the decision, at 1:51am, to launch their rescue craft into the flooded river. We eventually located her and managed to bundle her into our rescue boat”.

Some weeks later and following her successful rescue, Mrs Glover met up with Paul and fellow Porthcawl crewman Chris Missen at the scene of the incident to say thank you for saving her life. This rescue was the first time that any RNLI volunteers had been awarded medals for a flood rescue. Besides the RNLI recognition for this rescue, the ‘team’ found that they were honoured with the Pride of Britain Emergency Services Award. Paul, Chris and fellow team member Martin were also honoured by Porthcawl Town Council when Mayor, Cllr Mike Clarke, presented each of them with an Engraved Town Plaque in appreciation for their bravery.

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Philip Missen MBE, said, “It is a great shame to lose such an experienced helmsman. Of course we will continue to see Paul, however his visits to the station will be that of our inspector from now on. We wish him continued success for the future”.