Volunteer Becs drops everything to save lives at sea

Ready to drop everything at the sound of her pager, RNLI volunteer Becs Miller has been saving lives at sea for almost six years.

By Stephen Wilkie
Friday, 16th October 2020, 7:00 am
Becs Miller, RNLI volunteer
Becs Miller, RNLI volunteer

Now she is to star in the BBC’s Saving Lives at Sea which highlights the dramatic and often dangerous work of the UK’s coastal heroes and heroines.

Launching their RNLI craft from its Dunbar base to save two people and a dog cut off by the tide in blustery northerly winds off the East Lothian coast, Becs and her fellow volunteers knew time was of the essence.

"You never know when the pager is going to sound and that day, I was just getting ready to go out to lunch,” she said. “I’d already walked my dog on the beach and thought how choppy the sea was looking.

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Ready for a 'shout', RNLI Dunbar volunteer Becs Miller

"We were told two people and a dog had been cut off by the tide. I just knew we needed to get there quickly, and time was of the essence, but I also knew it would be a rough ride on our inshore lifeboat.

"With the tide coming up there wouldn’t be many safe places for them to go. We had to search - and find them quickly. The wind was whipping up the sea and we were searching alongside a steep cliff face where we expected them to be.

"Thankfully, we spotted the two people and dog, albeit in a very precarious position. They had managed to scramble up part of the cliff face above the water. The helm of the inshore lifeboat skilfully in the rough conditions dropped two of us to where the casualties were to check all was well.

"As we made our own way up over the slippery rocks, we could see the two people were very cold, but very pleased to see us at the same time. Now the challenge was to get them and their dog back down to the boat - one slip and any of us could have tumbled down into the sea.

"We carefully climbed aboard the inshore lifeboat and soon transferred them to our all-weather.

"When you get back after rescuing people you feel relieved you’ve brought them back to safety. Your mind soon goes back to thinking about normal life and I suddenly remembered I was supposed to be out for lunch then off to the cinema! After being battered by wild seas and northerly winds I wasn’t looking my best.’

Personal trainer Becs, 49, who also volunteers for Macmillan Move More exercise classes, admits the pandemic has made being a lifeboat volunteer even more challenging than normal.

She added: "The pandemic has seen us operate slightly differently but we’ve still maintained being on call 24/7 ready to save lives at sea.

"We haven’t been meeting up in person down the station like we normally would, so I’ve missed seeing the others - meetings and training online isn’t quite the same.

"Thankfully though, training has now started up again and it’s great to see my fellow volunteers who are very much like an extended family.”

Becs and her colleagues feature in Saving Lives at Sea on Tuesday, October 20. at 8pm on BBC2.

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