Weston-super-Mare station fundraiser wins first prize

The lifesaving work of the RNLI’s volunteer crew has been captured by the winner of the charity’s annual Photographer of the Year competition, announced today (8 Jan 2010) at the opening preview day of the Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show.

Howard Evans, an RNLI fundraiser from Western-super-Mare, won first prize for his picture of local crew launching a D class inshore lifeboat through surf.

Howard said: ‘I was surprised when I was told I’d been shortlisted as I didn’t know I’d been entered into the competition in the first place, but I was very pleased to win.’

Howard has been helping his wife Marion fundraise for the charity that saves lives at sea for the last five years. He took the pictures on an open day at the Weston-super-Mare station.

He said: ‘It was quite gusty and showery at times – a normal summer’s day. The crew were launching the boat in difficult conditions and I just caught them at the right moment. They did all the work really.’

Pete Holder, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Weston-super-Mare RNLI lifeboat station entered a selection of Howard’s pictures into the competition. He said: ‘I looked at them and thought, blimey, they’re nice pictures. The more I looked at them the more I thought that these were real action shots, not posed.

‘The volunteer crew here at Weston face those kind of conditions quite often. The shallow water and breaking waves are typical here and the photo really captures what we do.’

Martin Fear, the crew member pictured in the water, said: ‘I remember the day it was taken; we were doing a rescue demo on our open day and I was helping to launch the boat back to sea. It was quite rough. One minute I was waist deep in water and then the next set of waves would go over my head, so once the boat was pointing in the right direction I jumped back in pretty quickly.’

Martin said the rest of the volunteers at the station were impressed with the picture. He said: ‘It’s a good photo and the guys like it. I think it shows that lifeboats aren’t all about big boats. It’s about smaller boats that can be used inshore, and of course it’s about the volunteer crew who use them.’

Eleanor Driscoll, RNLI Film and Image Manager and head judge of the competition said: ‘The standard was very high this year, but Howard’s picture stood out because it illustrates perfectly the challenging conditions our volunteer crews have to deal with, as well as the team work that is needed to not only launch a lifeboat but to save lives at sea on a daily basis.’

The runner up and best photo in the Rescues Category was taken by MArtin Douglas from Loch Ness.

The competition aims to find pictures that reflect the lifesaving work of the RNLI. Volunteers and crew send in pictures to compete in four categories; rescues, people, fleet and landscapes. The overall winner is picked from the winners of each category.