Cowes RNLI Lifeboat Station

Helming Becomes a Family Affair at Cowes Lifeboat

14th July 2014

Rich & Laurie 003

Richard and Laurie O’Callaghan aboard the Sheena Louise at the station.

It’s a case of ‘like father like son’ at Cowes Lifeboat Station.

After following the example of his father, Richard O’Callaghan, by becoming a volunteer crew member, his son, Laurie, has now further emulated him by qualifying as a helm. To achieve this he underwent competence-based training at the station and the RNLI’s Poole headquarters, and finally a stringent on-the-Solent test under Divisional Operation Manager Richard Weeks.

His success means there are now five helms officially approved to take charge on the water of the station’s Atlantic 85 RIB, Sheena Louise.

“It is absolutely fantastic and I am extremely proud,” declared Richard. Laurie said, “To undergo the further training in my spare-time was of course a challenge, but I felt I was ready to take on that extra responsibility.”

Richard (49) has been a lifeboat crew member at Cowes since 2008, joining just before the independent operation was taken over by the RNLI. Some three years later he was promoted to helm.

His relationship with the RNLI became even stronger recently, however, when he was appointed the charity’s IT Services Delivery and Support Manager, having previously had a similar role with Ordnance Survey in Southampton.

Laurie (25) shares his lifeboat duties with those of a merchant navy officer; he joined Cowes lifeboat as shore crew in 2009, later graduating to crew, prospective helm, and now fully fledged helm.

Both father and son live at East Cowes, which means Richard has to do a long commute to Poole on weekdays. But both endeavour to respond to Cowes pager alerts and attend training sessions whenever practical.

Author: George Chastney, Lifeboat Press Officer.

Photo Credit: RNLI/Dave Davies