RNLI Littlehampton: River Arun holds appeal for volunteers

RNLI volunteers in Littlehampton have spoken about their love of the River Arun and the pleasure it brings, while recognising the perils.

The charity draws on the energy and skills of a range of volunteers through fundraising, launching and crewing the lifeboats.

Some of the Littlehampton station’s team are also regularly on or around the water involved in professional and leisure activities associated with the river.

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Nick White, lifeboat operations manager for Littlehampton, reflected on the station’s appeal to those who come forward to volunteer.

Training continues throughout the year for the RNLI at Littlehampton Lifeboat Station, with experienced crews passing on their knowledge of the River Arun and Sussex coast to the latest volunteers. Here, the crew is launching the B-Class lifeboat Renee Sherman in to the river for a training exercise on January 2, 2022. Picture: RNLI/ Anthony Fogg

He said: “The river ebbs and flows, but it’s always running 24/7 – just like our station. Our crew, and that includes everyone associated with the RNLI here in Littlehampton, may not only choose to spend leisure time on or near the water, but several also work directly on the river.

“All respect the water, understanding the pleasures, but also the perils. It is a privilege to serve the local community promoting water safety measures and bringing together volunteers from the Arun catchment to work as a team saving lives at sea.”

Littlehampton has a long connection with the RNLI going back to the 19th century, culminating in a permanent lifeboat station being established in 1967, housing the famous Blue Peter 1 lifeboat, paid for by charitable donations through the BBC Blue Peter Appeal.

Littlehampton Lifeboat Station is at the heart of the river community, with volunteers being drawn from the yacht and sailing clubs on the west bank, fishing charterers and Littlehampton Harbour Board.

Mark Nicholls, who works for the Harbour Board and as a sailing and powerboat instructor at Arun Yacht Club, has recently joined the RNLI crew as a trainee.

He said: “I grew up in Littlehampton and first became involved with the River Arun through dinghy sailing some eight years ago. Littlehampton is a fabulous port and I am delighted to now be an integral part of the working harbour.

“Joining the RNLI is a natural progression for me – it’s a great team at the boathouse and the RNLI commitment to saving lives at sea is a cause I’m proud to be a part of.”

The present station at Fisherman’s Quay was opened in 2002, providing enhanced direct access, via the slipway on the east bank, in to the River Arun.

There are two vessels, the B-class Renee Sherman with speeds of up to 35 knots (40mph) and D-class Ray of Hope, which is able to reach a casualty’s location at 25 knots (29mph).

Sea state, tide, wind strength and the nature of a given emergency determine which lifeboat is launched on a shout. In some circumstances, both are launched, perhaps when a search is requested for a person in the water.