ONSO: Meet Tynemouth Crew Member – Ian Black

In the first instalment from our Original North Sea Outfitters blog series profiling lifeboat crew members, we meet Ian Black from the Tynemouth station.

May 8th 2017
First up in our three part Original North Sea Outfitters series with lifeboat crew members, we caught up with Tynemouth’s very own Ian Black, to discuss why the North Sea is important to him, and to find out what makes his station location special…

What is your favourite British coastal location and why?
Holy Island, I have a holiday house there and I go a couple of times a week, when I can. It’s a tidal island, and when the tide is in and there are no tourists there, it’s lovely and quiet. There are just a few pubs and a shop. 
What was your most memorable day on the coast?
I have a VW Camper Van and I love taking it up to Beadnell, just up the coast, where you can do wild camping. You camp in a farmer’s field right on the beach overlooking the North Sea - I go with my wife and our dog. 
Why is the North Sea important to you? Tell us about the part it plays in your life. 
The sea has played a part all through my life, when I was a teenager I surfed all the time and then I worked as a lifeguard. Then after, I became a fireman. I also joined the local lifeboat crew, so I’ve been involved in sea rescue for over twenty years now!
What do you think about the Lifeboat Station Project? What was it like being photographed by Jack?
It’s the first time I’ve ever been photographed by someone using this wet plate collodion method so that was fascinating to watch. The Project itself is great because Jack is going to all 238 RNLI lifeboat stations and photographing the crews. I think lots of people know they’ve got a lifeboat station near them, but they don’t always know that the crew themselves are from their local community. 
 Ian Black (Left) wore our Barbour Hoy Wax Jacket & Jack Lowe (Right) wore our Barbour Orkney Wax Jacket.
What drew you to become a lifeboat crew member and how long have you been doing it for?
I wanted to give something back – and as I was already a fireman, it seemed like a natural progression. I’ve been volunteering as lifeboat crew for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution for 21 years. 
What do you do in your down time from being a crew member?
Well. Since I retired, the usual thing to do is have a mid-life crisis and buy a big car, but I bought a penny farthing. I’ve always wanted one. I dress up and I go cycling. It always brings a smile to people’s faces. 
 Ian wore our Barbour Current Stripe Crew Neck Jumper.
How do you warm up after a journey out into the North Sea?
When we’ve been out on the lifeboat, we always come back for a cup of tea or coffee, then we have a debrief – and then after that, we’ll usually go to the pub. 
Tell us about what makes your station location special?
It’s a safe haven. It’s tucked just inside the mouth of the river Tyne – it’s not the nicest looking place but it gives us quick access to the North Sea. 
Are there any memorable rescues you have been involved in?
There was a young lad with learning difficulties who tried to swim out to some boats moored just by the lifeboat station and got tangled in mooring lines.  He was 14, 15.  A member of the public saw him and alerted us. I just happened to be at the station that day, doing some work with the mechanic. We had to be so quick – when we saw him, he only just had his chin sticking out. So we took the boarding boat out and got there as fast as we could, and I jumped in the water to get him free.  
In case you missed our last Original North Sea Outfitters blog, we caught up with North East based Photographer, Jack Lowe, to discuss the Lifeboat Station Project and our latest SS17 Original North Sea Outfitters Collection.