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Interviews

🌊 200 Years of the RNLI: Chaz's story

Hear from City's head groundsman on his volunteering with RNLI

21 February 2024

Interviews

🌊 200 Years of the RNLI: Chaz's story

Hear from City's head groundsman on his volunteering with RNLI

21 February 2024

2024 sees the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) celebrate its 200th Birthday.

The charity saves lives at sea in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Since its set up in 1824, the RNLI have saved over 140,000 lives and now run over 237 lifeboat stations and 220 beach lifeguard units including one at Teignmouth, the home of City's head groundsman Chaz Woolnough.

At this Saturday's match with Fleetwood Town, Exeter City FC will recognise and celebrate the incredible work of the RNLI, with a stall at the ground with important sea safety information and content on the Big Screen at the Park as well as hosting some of the incredible volunteers that give their time to the RNLI locally.

"We are trying to commemorate the anniversary in many different ways and to bring it to the attention of our fans, and the wider football community, said Chaz.

"The sea safety team will be at St James Park on Saturday with a stall and they concentrate on trying to stop people getting in trouble at sea, or if they do get in trouble they know exactly what to do to give us the best chance to get out there as soon as possible and to rescue them."

Chaz has been an integral part of Teignmouth's station for the last twenty-eight years and is now the station manager.

"I started volunteering here when I was thirty. said Chaz. "I've always been involved in water sports and fishing with my Dad and wanted to give something back.

"I started as a crewman and was lucky enough to become a mechanic and a helmsman, then senior helm. The opportunity arose when I moved to Exeter for work to become station manager. They said 'would I do i for a couple months?' and that was thirteen years ago!"

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"When I'm not looking after the pitches for the players at the club, I do spend time down here training and when the pager goes off if anyone needs help, then myself and the guys and girls respond and do our best to keep everyone safe on the sea - it's a really enjoyable thing to do and makes good use of my time.

The RNLI is powered primarily by kind donations and is driven by our values of selflessness, courage, dependability and trustworthiness, with volunteers at their heart. 

"It is a voluntary service so there is no money involved which makes it unique, explains Chaz. "It is exciting at times but also sad at times and is rewarding. There are many different ways you can get involved, from being on the boat to the operations team and other roles such as media.

"We don't get any funding from the Government or anyone else and it's all done by legacies and fundraisers. The fundraising team go out and put on fêtes and coffee mornings and other events and shake buckets to make sure the service runs and are fully supported and are able to function as a life saving service."

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If you have the time on Saturday, please make sure you visit the stall at the Park to find out more!

To find out about volunteering with the RNLI, please click here.

Watch our visit to RNLI Teignouth ⬇️


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