ONSO: Meet Seahouses Crew Member – Ian Fisher

In the last instalment from our Original North Sea Outfitters blog series, profiling lifeboat crew members, we met Ian Fisher from the Seahouses station.

May 22nd 2017
As we draw to a close to our Original North Sea Outfitters series with lifeboat crew members, we caught up with Ian Fisher from the Seahouses station. We discussed what it was like being photographed by Jack Lowe, and how long he has been a lifeboat crew member…

What is your favourite British coastal location and why?
My favourite British coastal location is the Northumbrian coastline especially from Bamburgh Castle to Dunstanburgh Castle. This is because of the vast golden beaches on one side, and the rolling Cheviot Hills on the other - both free from crowds of people and the bustle of noisy towns.
What was your most memorable day at the coast?
My most memorable day at the coast was when I was on holiday with my parents and grandparents at the age of 7, digging holes and building castles on Beadnell beach. It is nice to see children of family and friends doing exactly the same, in the same location today.
Why is the North Sea important to you? Tell us about the part it plays in your life.
Having worked in a relatively stressful occupation it was nice to get home after a hard day in the office and walk our dog along the beach to unwind and de-stress. Even today, after several years of happy retirement, it is nice to walk along the beach and take in the stunning views.
What do you think about the Lifeboat Station Project? What was it like being photographed by Jack?
I think it is a great project, it is nice to meet with people who appreciate what the Royal National Lifeboat Institution do around the coast, and even better to see someone publicising what the crew does outside of the station. Being photographed by Jack in Seahouses was very enjoyable – to see my image develop in front of my eyes was an experience in itself. It also brought back memories of my grandfather being photographed in the same locations, using an old Brownie camera.
What drew you to become a lifeboat crew member and how long have you been doing it for?
I have been a crew member at Seahouses for over 30 years, I was asked to join by the Second Coxswain at the time, firstly because I was living approximately 200m from the boathouse and secondly because I was friends with a number of the crew.
What do you do in your down time from being a crew member?
I tend to spend most of my down time volunteering with the RNLI working with a colleague as a box secretary. This sees us going around the Northumbrian countryside visiting shops, pubs and hotels collecting cash donated by the general public to help fund the lifeboat service as the RNLI is a charity. I also work as a Lifeboat Visitors Officer. This entails logging visitor numbers to the station, arranging visits for both the general public, school and group visits. I am also the chair of the lifeboat station fundraising committee where we organise fund raising events for the station.
How do you warm up after a journey out into the North Sea?
Generally with a cup of tea and some good banter in the boathouse.
Tell us about what makes your station location special?
Our station tends to be a hub of interest for the general public with over a thousand people visiting us during the winter and several thousand per month during the summer. The views from the station are outstanding with the Farne Islands to one side and the bustle of the harbour to the other.  No two days are ever the same, with the weather, activities and visitor numbers changing constantly.
 Ian wore our Barbour Orkney Wax Jacket, styled with our Barbour City Neuston Chino Trousers and our Barbour Readhead Boots.
Are there any memorable rescues you have been involved in?
One stands out in particular. It was about 12 years ago when a coaster ship caught fire off Seahouses. The crew of the vessel were air lifted to safety by the RAF and we were asked to stand by to monitor the situation until the Royal Navy arrived. We were standing off from the vessel approximately 200m when we were informed that the vessel’s cargo was fertiliser. The vessel was going astern at 16 knots and we found it difficult to keep pace with it.
As we tried to keep up with the vessel we heard a number of small explosions on board and noticed plumes of smoke and debris thrown from the vessel. It was at this point we were asked by the Royal Navy to retire to a safe location 2 miles away from the casualty. It wasn’t until then we realised that the boat could explode at any time. Once the Royal Navy arrived we were stood down and the casualty vessel taken in tow to the River Tyne for repairs.
In case you missed our last Original North Sea Outfitters blog, we caught up with Cullercoats crew member, Curtis Dunn, to discuss his most memorable day at the coast, and to find out why the North Sea is so important to him…