TWENTY YEARS OF RESCUE SERVICE
Mike McErlane, a Helmsman on the RNLI's lifeboat at Kinghorn, has been awarded a long service medal for 20 years of voluntary service with the RNLI.
Mike, (37) a Marine Contractor with BP at Houndpoint Oil terminal, started as a volunteer with the RNLI at Kinghorn, when he was 17, way back in 1986. Since becoming a volunteer, Mike has been promoted to the position of Helmsman (in charge of the boat and crew during a shout). Mike lives in the village with his wife Katy, and they are expecting their first child at the end of the year.
During his service with the RNLI Lifeboat, Mike has rescued many people , vessels and animals and has been given several bravery awards. Mike recalled some of his experiences during the past 20 years," It was certainly very different when I first started as a trainee, even the type of lifeboat we had then, was so inferior to the Atlantic 75 we use at the moment. We were housed in a 'shed' which used to fill up when the tide was high! Now we have a purpose built boathouse which has a warm room where the drysuits hang, which makes it more comfortable,especially on a winters night. We also have an operations room which makes our training far more professional."
Mike, who admits to not being able to swim too well, continued,"Some of the worst shouts which stick in my mind include the plane crash off Granton, the sinking of the fishing boat Amber and the many bodies we have been tasked to recover. However the highlights include every time we manage to save a life, like the mother and father who had been taken out in their son's new boat for fathers day, but unfortunately it sank. They were so happy when we pulled them on board. Saving lots of schoolkids when the maid of the Forth when aground on Inchcolm, however some had to be rescued by helicopter and when we asked which ones would want that, they ALL put their hands up! I also remember saving a dog which was washed off the Esplanade in Kirkcaldy during a Links Market and was washed out to sea, the dog only managed to keep afloat due to all the fur and was struggling to survive when we arrived and pulled it out, once we lifted it on board it shook itself, wagged its tail and laid its head on my lap all the way back into shore,"
Mike was lucky enough to get the very last 'shout' on the old 'C' class lifeboat and the very first on the new Atlantic 75.
The picture shows Mike surrounded by his crew being presented with his medal by RNLI Kinghorn Operations Manager Charlie Tulloch.