The Crew | In conversation with Fred Whitaker

Presented by Helly Hansen.


Helly Hansen have supplied all-weather lifeboat crew kits to RNLI volunteers for over 5 years now - subsequently worn by some of the bravest seafarers in the country. To highlight this collaboration, we spoke to some of the volunteers that pull on the gear no matter the conditions. Saving lives at sea since 1824.

“Your RNLI: 200 years and counting”

Meet Fred, a lifelong volunteer for the RNLI with over 44 years of service. Based in Wells-next-the-Sea, he is also the Deputy Harbour master for the Port of Wells and has some incredible stories to tell. Here goes…


Fred Whitaker

Tell us about your time with the RNLI?

I joined in 1978 so have now been part of the voluntary service for 44 years. I am an all weather lifeboat crew member and also the Deputy Harbour master for the Port of Wells.

As a young lad I always helped on the beach as I was a good swimmer so was keen to do anything I could to help when the Wells lifeguards and lifeboats were called into action.

I was then asked by the Helmsman of the inshore lifeboat, Graham Walker if I'd be interested in joining the crew which of course I jumped at the chance of. I became part of the crew on both lifeboats and during my time I was made senior helm for the inshore and also an emergency mechanic on the all-weather lifeboat.


Favourite moment?

Being chosen to be one of the crew to bring the new Shannon class lifeboat, the Duke of Edinburgh back into Wells. This was the proudest day of my life. Being part of the Wells RNLI has been a very important part of my life.


Most memorable shout?

We were called to rescue a catamaran and had to put one of the crew onto it to attach a tow line. The conditions were very rough and with that a big wave came at us, washing myself and another member of the lifeboat overboard. We were swimming in extremely challenging conditions and were luckily rescued by our crew member onboard a few seconds after.



  • To donate directly to the RNLI, click HERE.
  • To find your nearest lifeboat station, click HERE.
  • To shop Helly Hansen gear, please click HERE.

Updated on 25th January 2024

Originally published on 28th December 2023 in Sailing

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