After extensive training, assessments, and many hours of hard work, St Ives lifeboat crew members Derek Barrett and Simon Allott have passed out in their volunteer roles.

New roles: Derek Barrett (left) and Simon Allott. Photographs: RNLI/Niki Brooks

Simon passed out as a tractor driver for the Shannon launch and recovery system (the big tractor). The whole rig weighs in at 37 tonnes. This impressive piece of kit can carry an 18-tonne Shannon over all kinds of beach terrain, from steep shelving shingle to wet, sticky sand. It can drive straight into big surf and safely launch the lifeboat in up to 2.4m of water.

Not only that, in the event of breakdown with an incoming tide, the watertight tractor can be completely submerged in depths of up to 9m before being retrieved once the tide has receded.

The role of the tractor driver is crucial, and they take charge of the launch vehicle under direction of the head launcher to ensure the lifeboat can launch day and night, regardless of conditions.

Derek passed out as head launcher, responsible for directing the lifeboats to the safest and most appropriate launch location, and for ensuring recovery equipment is equally well placed.

Great achievement

The head launcher takes charge of operations connected with the launch and recovery of the lifeboat, and they oversee a team of shore crew, who include shore-based volunteers all working to get the lifeboat out and recovered when they return.

They also ensure that the beach is safe to launch and recover the vessels. This includes crowd and beach user management around the rigs, boats and volunteers.

Coxswain, Rob Cocking, said: “We are delighted to be able to congratulate both Simon and Derek on their passouts. It’s a great achievement for themselves, the station, and the continued provision of our lifesaving service.”