Meet the teenage volunteers saving lives at sea in Shoreham
It is not your everyday excuse to get out of class, but two Shoreham teenagers are ready to shut their textbooks at a moment's notice to help save lives at sea.
Charlie Cullen, 17, and Isobel Tugwell, 18, are just two of the dedicated young volunteers the Shoreham lifeboat station is putting in the spotlight for National Volunteers’ Week.
Both students, who are at sixth form together and have permission to leave and attend shouts while in lessons, are the third generations of their families to join the RNLI crew.
Charlie’s dad, Rob Cullen, is crew and a navigator on the all-weather lifeboat and helm on the inshore lifeboat, while Isobel’s dad Simon is second coxswain on the all-weather lifeboat and also helm on the inshore lifeboat.
Isobel, who joined the RNLI on her 17th birthday, as did her dad, grew up around the lifeboat station before following her grandad and dad onto the boat.
She said: “I love helping people and making a difference as a lifeboat crew member.
“The training is challenging, but enjoyable and I am learning all the time.”
The teenagers started their inshore lifeboat duties earlier this year along with twins George and Harry Hubbard, both 18.
George and Harry also have a family connection at Shoreham, being the second generation of their family to serve.
Their elder brother Chris is a senior helm on the inshore lifeboat.
As well as attracting young people to the crew, which is vital to ensuring the future of the station, Shoreham has also been successful in recruiting women to the crew.
Hazel Condell and Lynzi Mulford have both passed out as crew with Hazel now training as an the inshore lifeboat helm.
Lifeboat press officer Michelle Tugwell said: “We feel it is important that women are represented at the lifeboat station and are part of the lifeboat family.”
The RNLI has almost 5,000 volunteer crew members and many thousands more carrying out roles such as community safety volunteers, education volunteers, shore crew and community fundraisers.
Almost thirty thousand people give their time freely to the charity, making up around 95 per cent of RNLI people.
Although some of those who join the charity have a maritime background this is becoming increasingly rare and today only one in ten of those volunteering for the RNLI have previous experience of the sea.
You can volunteer for the charity from the age of 13 and anyone is welcome to join.
For more information on becoming a volunteer, visit: www.rnli.org/support-us/become-a-volunteer