Two boys in blue have pulled on their yellow wellies to take the helm of Stonehaven’s RNLI lifeboat.
Fraser Robertson and Malcolm Kinross have been volunteers with the crew for several years, but can now take command of the inshore lifeboat after qualifying as helmsmen.
The pair are no strangers to emergency call-outs, as they have both been police officers for more than 17 years.
That experience will stand them in good stead, as the RNLI describes the duty of a helmsman as using “utmost endeavours to safeguard and rescue the lives of those in danger, whilst having regard for the safety of their crew”.
Giving something back to the community
Mr Robertson, who joined RNLI Stonehaven in 2015, and Mr Kinross, who joined three years later, undertook hours of vital training to prepare them for the challenging conditions ahead.
They first joined as shore crew, moving on to boat crew before deciding to train as a helm.
Mr Kinross, who first joined the RNLI in 2018 to give something back to his community, said: “I have no nautical background and joined the RNLI to meet people from my local community and learn about a maritime subject.
“The training has been of a high standard and very intense. As well as an in-depth course at the RNLI college at Poole in Dorset, there have been regular exercises both afloat and with the crew in the station at our training sessions on Thursdays evenings and Sunday mornings.
“The crew at Stonehaven are dedicated, professional and a really good laugh and I’m proud to be part of that crew.”
The duo appreciated being able to go through the training process together, and went through their assessment last month.
Mr Robertson, who started his voluntary service in 2015, said their mutual support and that from the rest of the crew has been vital.
“We both put ourselves forward as trainee helms at the same time and it gave us an opportunity to bounce off each other a bit as we progressed,” he said.
“It is really good to see how much support both the station and the crew gets from local community and that forms a large part of the satisfaction for me.”
They will be ‘tremendous helms’
The current RNLI station in Stonehaven opened in 2014 and now has a team of six helms among its volunteer crew.
Jamie Hunter, an Atlantic 85 lifeboat, is specially designed to operate close to the shore and rugged cliffs, rocks and caves.
Keith Gaksin, fellow helm and training coordinator for RNLI Stonehaven, said he was delighted the pair had qualified and dubbed it a “great achievement”.
“It’s a rigorous and exacting process to qualify as a helm,” he said.
“They are already experienced and skilled members of the boat crew and will be tremendous helms for many years to come.
“The training and development of the crew is vitally important in making sure we are always ready to launch, saving lives at sea.
“The guys are also now in a position to help train the next generation of crew, as they develop their skills and share their experience and expertise.”