Lifesaving story of ‘inspirational’ Exmouth RNLI volunteer features in charity’s new book

An Exmouth RNLI volunteer who received a bravery medal for saving the lives of four men in 2011 features in a new book about the sea safety charity’s rescues.

Roger Jackson, Exmouth lifeboat deputy 2nd coxswain, who has served at the station since 1998, has been included in Surviving the Storms, a book of 11 true RNLI rescue stories.

Reason to Recover is the account of Roger, and fellow Exmouth lifeboat volunteers Mark Champion and Andy Williams, who saved the lives of four men at the end of October 2011 after their boat flipped over, throwing them into ‘treacherous’ three-metre high waves.

The chapter goes on to explain how the RNLI family helped Roger recover from a serious accident when he risked losing his legs.

Roger said: “I’m really pleased to be part of this amazing book and the insights it gives of the risks our RNLI volunteers take each time they launch a lifeboat.

“I hope my story goes some way to inspire others, especially during the current difficult times, where many find themselves suffering tragic circumstances, to always have a goal, look to the future, aim high and never give up.”

The RNLI said the inclusion in the book of the Exmouth rescue was ‘captivating and inspiring’.

It tells of the late-October afternoon in 2011 when the inshore lifeboat crew was called out after a member of the public spotted a rigid inflatable boat flip over near the sandbar, tossing those onboard into high waves.

The men swam to their upturned craft and were rescued by the volunteer lifeboat crew.

At the time, the RNLI said large waves breaking over the stricken vessel resulted in one of the rescued swimming to the lifeboat, which had been ‘nearly working to its limits’.

Dangerous conditions meant the upturned boat could not be recovered.

And the all-weather lifeboat was on standby in case the weather deteriorated further.

The casualties were taken to waiting paramedics back on shore.

Speaking in 2011, after the rescue, inshore lifeboat helmsman Roger Jackson said: “It was as rough a sea as we had launched into for quite some time.

“Conditions off the bar were highly treacherous with steep and confused seas with waves of up to three metres at times.”

Speaking about the new book, the RNLI spokesman said: “It tells of how Roger and his two fellow crewmen, Mark Champion and Andy Williams, put themselves at significant risk as they rescued the casualties one-by-one in fearsome conditions that necessitated their return to the scene of the incident not once, but four times.

“All crewmen received official recognition of their bravery, and Roger was awarded the RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry.

“But as the title of the chapter suggests, Roger’s story goes much further. It tells of the role his being part of the RNLI family played in his recovery from a serious accident in which he risked losing both legs.

“It focusses on his realisation of that risk, how he might never walk or run again, or ever go back on a lifeboat, and his determination, despite eighteen major operations, countless skin grafts and years of physiotherapy, to get back into RNLI service and prove the doctors wrong.”

The RNLI said the book’s ‘heart-wrenching’ and ‘life affirming missions’ include detailed descriptions of some of the most dramatic rescues at sea from the last 20 years.

The charity’s spokesman said: “Each experience is relived through the eyes of the volunteers as they put themselves in harm’s way, face extreme conditions, make life or death decisions and tackle difficult and dangerous situations.

“There are also remarkable individual accounts of bravery, jeopardy and an unrelenting commitment to battle against the forces of nature towards saving every life at risk.

“Our RNLI volunteers are part of a bigger family of individuals, each committed in different ways, to join together as one crew with one common objective – to save lives at sea.

“Just ordinary people doing the truly extraordinary.”

Surviving the Storm, with foreword written by the President of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, HRH The Duke of Kent, is published by Harper Collins and is available online and from book stores.

A royalty from each sale will be paid in support of the RNLI.

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