RNLI Sunderland
Thursday 21 October 2021

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Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Crew - Can I Join?

Most of the lifeboat men and women are volunteers who come from all walks of life. The occupation list of most stations makes for fascinating reading (see crew page) because it demonstrates the diversity of the people who are prepared to risk their lives to save others. In fact with the reduction in the size of fishing fleets, less than 10% of new crewmembers come with a nautical background.

All of the crews are physically fit, dedicated to the job, and very much team player's. Their commitment isn't only measured in the time spent involved in rescues. Increasingly, new equipment and faster boats have meant that regular training programmes also account for much of their spare time.

The number of crew per station varies according to the boats and equipment on site, and normally each station with an all-weather lifeboat has only one full-time crewmember responsible for maintaining the lifeboat and its gear. However, the boat crews are only part of the whole team. The station could not function without the shore helpers.

Do's and Don'ts



Be over 17 (parents permission) or over 18 years old


Need to be under 45 years old (ILB) or 55 (ALB)


Need to live and/or work within 3 miles of the Station
Catchment area MAP for boat crew volunteers


Need to be medically fit


Need good eyesight


Be a team player and be accepted by the rest of the crew.


Pass a probationary period that usually lasts for one year


Need to be committed



Need any nautical knowledge


Need to have been on a boat before


Need to be male


Need to be a good swimmer


Need to know first aid


Need to be a member of the RNLI


Need to know any existing crew members

Being part of a lifeboat crew is a major commitment, which could ultimately include risking your life. Your commitment isn't only measured in the time spent involved in rescues.

Increasingly, new equipment and faster boats mean that regular training programmes also account for much of your spare time.
You may also be asked to help show visitors around the station and with local fundraising.

How to Join?

In order to become a volunteer crewmember you must be at least 17 years of age, under 45 years of age and medically fit with excellent eyesight.

Crewmembers do not have to have a maritime background, although clearly it is an advantage if you do and will reduce both the length and the costs of your training. We have individuals from all walks of life on our crew from office workers to company directors!

Most importantly, you will need to be 110% committed to being able to respond at a moment's notice, no matter where you are or what you are doing. Crews are regularly called away from their families, their beds and their work, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In return we can offer you one of the most exciting and fulfilling voluntary jobs available.

What Next?

Please feel free to either call into the lifeboat station (Sunday 0900-1200hrs or Tuesday 1930-2130) or call 0191 5673536 if you want to speak to us about what is involved in joining the crew. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and to guide you through the process of applying to join the crew. To contact us by email - click here

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