Meet the Rogersons at Trearddur Bay

Two generations of one family at Trearddur Bay.
Meet the Rogersons at Trearddur Bay

Photo: RNLI / Andy Hodgson

Bill Rogerson

Age: 63

Roles: Treasurer, Chaplain, Box Manager, Education Presenter, RNLI Shop Assistant

Day job: Retired Police Officer, Mission Port Officer for The Fishermen’s Mission

Shirley Rogerson

Age: 63

Roles: Holyhead and Trearddur Bay Ladies’ Guild Secretary and RNLI Shop Manager.

Day job: Home-maker

Steve Rogerson

Age: 40

Roles: Helm and Lifeboat Training Coordinator

Day job: Emergency Medical Technician and Student Paramedic

Alison Dixon

Age: 37

Role: Crew Member

Day job: Trainee Emergency Medical Technician

What drew you to the RNLI?

Bill: I was born in Morecambe, Lancashire, so it was natural to have the sea in my blood. My great grandfather was Richard Parkinson, part of the Parkinson family who served on the Lytham and St Anne’s Lifeboats. They were involved in the terrible Mexico disaster of 9 December 1886, the worst ever lifeboat disaster.

Shirley: I joined the RNLI in 1987 when we moved to Anglesey. The Treasurer, Pam Rowe, asked me to help out at a fundraising Open Day – after that I was hooked. I was asked if I would be the Secretary for the Holyhead and Trearddur Bay Ladies Guild, and as you see, I’m still here!

Steve: I have been on the crew for 22 years. When I was young, my dad and I went to Hartlepool Lifeboat Station where I was able to go on two lifeboats, which I enjoyed. When we moved to North Wales, I started work at the Trearddur Bay Hotel, opposite the lifeboat station, and met some crew. I was invited across when I was 17 and some months later I went out on my first exercise, passed my driving test and received my pager.

Alison: I joined the crew in 1995 and left to have a family in 2009. But I missed it so much I came back 2 years later. I joined because some of the crew members kept saying: ‘Why don't you join the lifeboat?’ and I thought: ‘Yeah, why not?’ I remember the first time I went to the boathouse, as a young, shy 17-year-old, and sat outside, too scared to go in until one of the crew came down to get me! I was the 111th female to join the RNLI and the 1st female to join Trearddur Bay.

What’s been your favourite moment here?

Bill: The naming of our Atlantic 85 B class Hereford Endeavour by Prince William and Kate Middleton, their first official public appearance, on 24 February 2011. It was a memorable occasion for all of us. I took part in the dedication ceremony by doing a Bible reading as part of my duties as Chaplain. Shirley made the Royal couple a cup of tea in the crew room and had a chat with them as well. It was an amazing event and press showed up from 37 different countries!

Shirley: Meeting people and talking to them about the RNLI. As a shop volunteer you meet so many lovely people who come into the shop or to our events. These people give vital money to help our lifeboat crews do their job and keep them safe when they are helping others in distress.

Steve: Receiving my long service award and being part of a bigger family.

Alison: The people. One of our best friends is on the crew and we met him and his wife through the lifeboat.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your time at the RNLI?

Bill: The sea always has the upper hand and should never be taken for granted, and how very important personal flotation devices are. I’m disappointed that people choose to ignore the warnings and don’t wear them

Shirley: Respect the Water and the shore surrounding it. It only takes one full-force wave to destroy a family forever.

Steve: Respect Mother Nature. Respect the sea.

Alison: The sea can be so cruel and takes no prisoners, people are too blasé and need to respect how dangerous it can be.

Is there a rescue that stands out in your mind?

Bill: Steve went out on a shout on a rough day and was washed overboard, but fortunately he was quickly back on the boat.

Shirley: To echo what Bill said, your heart is in your mouth when you hear that a crew member has been injured. There was also a shout last year where the young lad they were looking for wasn’t found, but his brother was saved.

Steve: I was tasked to a fallen climber some distance off North Stack. I had to swim in the swell with a first aid kit and climb onto the rocks, tearing a hole in my suit doing so. I was then thrown the oxygen kit and made my way to the climber up the cliff - not easy in wellies!

I found he was breathing, but only just, and gave him treatment for his injuries, stabilised his neck and called in the helicopter. He was winched from the cliff and hospitalised. Two weeks later, I was fortunate enough to meet up with him in intensive care after he woke up from his coma. He made a good recovery.

Alison: I was at a friend’s daughter’s wedding and when we were getting ready to go in for the meal, the pagers went off! I looked at my friend Barbara and she said: ‘Go!’ Off I ran in my heels to the boathouse.

A speedboat had capsized in the bay with people in the water. We rescued the two people involved and took them back to shore. Once the shout was over, I got changed and everyone was looking at me as I re-emerged from the boathouse in my posh dress!

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced volunteering?

Bill: The changeover to computers. Computers are OK when they work, but I’m a little old fashioned and still keep manual records. I also undertook a 320-mile cycle challenge in the Arctic Circle to raise funds for the RNLI.

Shirley: The biggest challenge I’ve faced is trying to keep the morale going in fundraising. It’s very difficult to think up new ideas to raise money – and it has to be fun.

Steve: The 24-hour charity raft challenge we did in 2013 – listening to three other crew snore for the night!

Alison: Being a girl – I had to prove that girls can do just as well as the boys. Well, I’m still here!

What’s it like to be part of a lifeboat family?

Bill: It’s a fantastic feeling to be part of the RNLI family, the best lifesaving organisation in the world. We talk to each other about our different roles within the RNLI and get our motivation from that; particularly if there has been a significant shout. There’s something special about the RNLI that makes you want to give everything you’ve got.

Shirley: I have two lifeboat families. One is the fundraisers who raise the vital funds to keep the RNLI afloat, and the other is Stephen and Alison and the crew. It's fabulous to be part of both.

Steve: It’s one of the best feelings you can have. You visit stations and they are most welcoming.

Alison: It’s great to have everyone involved in the RNLI. We all do different things but we work to achieve the same goal of saving lives at sea.

What’s it like to be the parent of a lifeboat crew member? Do you ever worry about them?

Bill: I am very proud of Steve and Alison, although it’s only natural to worry about them when they are out on a shout. I always say a prayer for them and the rest of the crew.

Shirley: I feel so proud of both our children. I do worry about them, but I know they have the best equipment available on the lifeboats and have back up if needed. I pray for all the crew when I see them go out on a shout.

Could you tell us a bit about your parents? Did they inspire you to become involved with the RNLI?

Steve: They have both been members for years and won their awards due to the commitment and dedication of their volunteer roles at the RNLI. My mum got involved as Honorary Secretary of the Ladies Guild some 26 years ago. She also helps out with the RSPCA and looks after three elderly people in her road.

My dad’s retired – or so he keeps telling us – and helps out in the shop most weekends. He’s the Station Treasurer, Box Manager, RNLI speaker and Governor, and also does work for the British Transport Police and other charities.

But cut them both in half and you will see RNLI all the way through. Their dedication and commitment is second to none. What son wouldn’t have these two as parents? I feel very proud of both of them.

Alison: My parents are amazing people and have brought me up to be the person I am today! They have always taught me what’s right and wrong, and I hope I have done them proud. I am so proud of both my parents and for everything that they both have achieved. It’s not every day someone’s mum or dad gets an award from the Queen, but to have both parents with medals is such an amazing honour and achievement.

Would you like your children to follow the family tradition and become RNLI volunteers too?

Steve: My son, William (aged 11), has been coming down to the station with me for the last 2 years, helping out on exercise days and washing down the boats and tractors.

The crew deem him part of the furniture now, and he has his own t-shirt and coat, along with the yellow wellies and high-vis vest. When my pager goes off at night, he is out of his bed and follows me.

He recently raised over £500 in a few days, selling loom band key rings. He shows the public around the station, telling them all about the B class Atlantic 85 and D class lifeboats. Some things even the crew don’t know! He is an ambassador to future crew and seems to live the same dream as I do. My wife calls him a mini-me. The crew call him my shadow.

Alison: My girls are everything. Aaliyah is 6 and Brodie is 4. If they want to join the RNLI and follow in their mum’s footsteps then that would be amazing, but they are their own people and they can make their own decisions when they get older. They say they want to do it at the moment, but only time will tell!

What do your family and friends think of your involvement with the RNLI?

Steve: I have a very supportive wife at home who has to put up with a lot during the Summer months. Without a supportive family, volunteers cannot do what is expected of them. We're on call 24/7, 365 days of the year. When we found out about the boy who went missing in August last year, my wife asked if I wanted to cut short our weekend away to go back home and join the search. Who else would do that?

Alison: I think my friends are proud that I’m in the RNLI. It’s a big, well known charity and they know how much I enjoy doing it.

Join the family

As Bill says, it really is ‘a fantastic feeling to be part of the RNLI family’. And we’d love to have you onboard!

If the Rogersons have inspired you to be a part of ‘the best lifesaving organisation in the world’, take a look at the different ways you can volunteer with us.

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