Documentary highlights vital role of RNLI volunteers in Oban


The documentary focuses on three young women who volunteer for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in Oban, west Scotland, which has some of the most changeable and dangerous waters off the UK coast. .

The film is told from the perspective of Oban RNLI volunteers Lawrie, Leonie and Jasmin, who all eloquently detail the sense of purpose, belonging, community and trust their volunteering brings them and how it is possible to find themselves at the service of others.

Léonie sums it up well: “It was joining the boat that gave me confidence. Volunteering isn’t just a privilege, it’s also a way to grow and discover who you really are.

Produced by award-winning filmmaker Dan McDougall, the film was beautifully shot in Oban, which takes its name from the Gaelic meaning ‘little bay’. Located in the
West Highlands of Scotland is the gateway to the Hebrides Islands and has about 10,000 inhabitants.

The local RNLI has one of the largest rescue areas to cover in the UK and the waters around the coastline are deceiving, changing from tranquil to wild in no time. The RNLI crew rely on at least three different weather reports to give an accurate picture of conditions, so it’s easy to see how people get into trouble in these seas who then end up in Canada, except by Tiree.

The film sets the scene by depicting the power of the Scottish climate and how it has shaped the people of the region. Indeed, the Scots have over 100 words for rain, from dreich (a miserable, wet day) to spindrift (a jet whipped by the wind).

Léonie begins: “The history of the RNLI has always included women. Today’s women volunteers are not pioneers – others have paved the way. She concludes: “Grace Darling* became a national heroine in 1838. It wasn’t yesterday, was it?

A theme that runs through the documentary is the RNLI team as a family and community that support and encourage each other. Lawrie came to Oban from Stranraer in south-west Scotland for the lifeboats (her partner is a full-time coxswain for the charity), not knowing anyone and the station’s volunteers quickly became her friends relatives.

Leonie was born and raised in Snowdonia but has always been drawn to the sea and once again has been welcomed by the RNLI family, which also includes many other volunteers including the youngest member, Andrew, the oldest member. former, Ian (described as the “biggest hero on the boat”) and the “heart of the boat” and full-time mechanic, Tom.

Jasmin is originally from Oban, but after living in Australia for a while and witnessing the ongoing damage to the Great Barrier Reef, she returned home to train as a marine scientist at the local University of Highlands and Islands, which has its own research institute. the Scottish Marine Science Association. The film tackles climate change and the currently unknown risks the UK faces if changes occur in the Gulf Stream.

The preparation and professionalism of the team is evident throughout the film. Jasmin says, “When the pager goes off, all you have to do is enter the area and go to the station. Going out on the boat in a storm, there’s an element of dealing with fear, because you don’t always know where you’re going and that can be something that’s not necessarily very nice, but I think that we internalize that. There really isn’t time to be afraid.

Lawrie says, “When we’re on call, you always have one eye on the horizon. A point that Leonie picks up later in the documentary when she says, “When you’re on call, there’s always a feeling of worry. that you are still waiting for.

A sense of community is a common thread that runs through the film series. As Lawrie says, “It’s through the community spirit that I’ve come to think of the lifesaving station as the best of us all. Something I wanted to be a part of. »

The community storyline is also linked to the Caledonian MacBrayne ferries which serve the west coast of Scotland. One of the other crew members, Andrew, works on the ferries when not volunteering for the RNLI and the documentary shows how the local islands rely on the sea to transport labour, goods, visiting friends and relatives and healthcare (including the delivery of four babies on RNLI ships).

Watch the full movie here: Projector.

Award-winning filmmaker Dan McDougall, who created the film with his team at Miran Media, said: “As the team interviewed the RNLI case studies at the heart of this documentary, Leonie, Lawrie and Jasmin, it became clear that first responder volunteerism was not necessarily the act of sacrifice we often think it is. In this powerful and uplifting triptych tale, the story was less about understanding what it takes to be a lifeguard, and more about exploring and understanding the personal growth of three very different women through volunteerism. Each of them had gained confidence, community and personal growth through their RNLI roles and their intertwined lives had given them a deep sense of purpose and unity.

“The film goes to the core of understanding what it takes to risk one’s own safety and sanity to save the lives of others, then goes even deeper to find an almost unbridled joy and pride in doing something that serves others. Something that is emotionally, physically, and creatively challenging. while consuming. To be an ordinary person doing extraordinary things.

Ruth Boumphrey, CEO of Lloyd’s Register Foundation, said: “Through this documentary film, we pay tribute to the people who offer their service to keep people safe at sea. Far too many people continue to lose their lives at sea and this risk increases as the ocean economy doubles over the next ten years. As a global safety charity, Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s mission is to design a safer world – and that includes a safer ocean – and supporting the RNLI is just one of the ways we do this.

“If there are other organizations working in this space that would be interested in us sharing this film or others in our series, please get in touch. In addition to funding sea safety programs, we work with partners around the world to raise awareness of ocean-related security challenges to drive positive change.

Jamie Chestnutt, RNLI’s Director of Engineering and Procurement, said: “We are delighted to be part of the foundation’s ocean safety series and hope the film will give viewers insight into the incredible hard work and dedication of our volunteer teams across the UK and Ireland. .

“As a charity that saves lives at sea, we play our part in promoting safety at sea and are incredibly proud to share our knowledge and understanding with a global audience.”

For all other enquiries, please contact Amanda Allan, Public Relations Consultant for Lloyds Register Foundation, on Amanda Allan [email protected] or +44 (0) 7926 286676.

Notes to Editors:

  • Please credit Lloyd’s Register Foundation for the film.
  • Lloyd’s Register Foundation is an independent global charity that supports research, innovation and education to make the world a safer place. Its mission is to use the best evidence and knowledge to help the global community focus on solving the world’s most pressing security and risk issues. www.lrfoundation.org.uk
  • Dan McDougall is an award-winning journalist who has reported from 126 countries and war zones around the world and given talks and advice on international issues. Dan and his former BBC World Affairs Correspondent business partner Navdip Dhariwal founded
    Miran Media unearth and investigate true stories through hard-hitting documentaries.
  • The charity RNLI saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service on the coasts of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The RNLI operates 238 lifeguard stations in the UK and Ireland and over 240 lifeguard units on beaches in the UK and the Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of the coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its lifesaving service. Since the RNLI’s inception in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved more than 143,000 lives.
  • The set of “Searchlight” was photographed by award-winning visual journalist and author,
    Finbarr O’Reilly. Finbarr has spent the past 20 years working in conflict zones and complex humanitarian emergencies. He specializes in cross-platform collaborative projects that develop and promote a more representative range of voices and perspectives in the photojournalism industry while translating strategic and editorial goals into engaging and compelling stories that influence global audiences. Finbarr engages in education, mentorship and personal development initiatives aimed at providing meaningful diversification of the media landscape and the promotion of social justice.
  • *Grace Darling and her father, William, a lighthouse keeper at Longstone Lighthouse, North Sunderland, rescued nine people from a terrible shipwreck in dangerous conditions on September 7, 1838.

RNLI Highlights

The charity RNLI saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service on the coasts of the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The RNLI operates 238 lifeguard stations in the UK and Ireland and over 240 lifeguard units on beaches in the UK and the Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of the coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its lifesaving service. Since the RNLI’s inception in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved more than 142,700 lives.

Find out more about the RNLI

For more information, please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. Press releases, videos and photos are available on the News Center.

Contact the RNLI – public inquiries

Members of the public can contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

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