The Crew | In conversation with Will Richardson

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 Will, an RNLI volunteer, photographer and all-round waterman. We are very grateful to Will for his support on this project, as he captured some stills and caught up with a few of his fellow crewmates at the local station. We hear about memorable callouts, favourite pieces of Helly Hansen kit, and top tips for staying safe in and around the water. 

As the man behind the camera, we thought it would be best to start with his own journey behind the helm. Here goes…

 

Will Richardson

I joined the Wells-next-the-Sea RNLI as a volunteer in September 2021. My current position is trainee crew member for the Inshore (ILB) and All-weather (ALB) lifeboats. I wanted to give back to and support the local fishing community and also challenge myself as I enjoy the different conditions that the sea can often bring.

The water has always been a big part of my life. I learnt to sail at the age of 7 in Norfolk then moved to Greece in 2018 to work as a Sailing Instructor. Returning to Norfolk in later years I opened up my coffee shop, Wills of Wells.

In April 2020 I took on The Albatross with my family, a 125 year old Dutch Clipper, one of Europe's oldest sail boats which we have moored at Wells Harbour. The boat needed extensive restoration which we have been working hard on over the past 3 years in dry dock at Moulden, Essex. We sailed her back in Summer this year being greated by the most humbling reception from all of the Wells locals and tourists who have known The Albatross for many many years. The plans are to open her up as a Bed & Breakfast and Seafood Restaurant for early 2024.

 

Memorable moment with the RNLI?

My first shout on the All-weather Lifeboat (ALB) - We were tasked to assist a lone sailor on a yacht after reports for his safety were raised, this was 11 miles north of Wells Harbour. My role was to board the yacht and set up a tow to bring the skipper and boat back to the safety of Wells Harbour.

 

What are your emotions during a shout?

When the pager sounds my first thoughts are 'Is it someone that I know?' In winter months it is more likely to be a local or one of  the fishermen in danger. Summer brings lots of visitors new to the area who are cut off by the tide. Wells beach has several areas that become submerged very quickly. Depending on tide times I can usually sense if the shout is a possible cut off before we are all briefed at the Lifeboat Station.

Emotions are mixed and my focus is getting to the station and kitted up as quickly as possible. Anticipation and adrenaline kick in.

I am lucky during daytime shop hours that I have several locals that will take care of the shop and close up if I am called out. There are occasionally the odd times that customers who have not seen the shop sign to say that I am on call with the RNLI, so they look pretty surprised when I run out halfway through a coffee order.

 

Your future plans with the RNLI?

I'd like to complete all available training and become a helm for the inshore lifeboat.

 

Tell us more about the RNLI HH kit, what could you not be without?

The Helly Hansen salopettes. They keep you so warm and dry no matter what you are doing, be it out on the boat or washing down after a shout. They offer a great range of movement without any restriction. 

 

How can people help support the RNLI?

One of the best ways is to visit events that local stations hold throughout the year. It is a great way to meet the crew and learn more about the important work that the RNLI does. 

 

Links

  • 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 20th December 2023 in Sailing

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