First lifeboat shout for teenage recruit

Ilfracombe crew member Ben Bengey, aged 17, has now been on his first 'live' lifeboat shout.

Ilfracombe crew member Ben Bengey, aged 17, has now been on his first 'live' lifeboat shout. - Credit: Archant

Ilfracombe RNLI’s newest recruit gets his first taste of helping those at sea.

A teenage Ilfracombe lifeboat recruit was unexpectedly called into action while out on a training exercise.

Ben Bengey, 17, the newest addition to Ilfracombe’s RNLI volunteer crew, was out with the inshore lifeboat in the harbour when a real life shout developed.

Harbour master Rob Lawson called for assistance moving a 60 foot barge to moorings in high winds and swell.

The visiting vessel had only its owner on board and he was struggling to moor it single-handedly, so Ben, with the assistant harbour master and other lifeboat crew members boarded got on board to help.

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Once it was safely moored the crew returned to station. Volunteer helmsman Stuart Carpenter felt the evening had been training: “Tonight’s events have given Ben first hand experience of the unpredictable nature of being a member of the lifeboat crew,” he said.

“Even the best planned training exercise can get cut short by an emergency call out, and both our plans and crew members need to be adaptable.

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“Ben is already fitting in well as part of the Ilfracombe RNLI family, and among the crew he’s becoming known by the nickname Socks – a sure sign he’s been accepted!”

Ben is the son of coxswain Andrew Bengey and has just become the youngest commercial skipper in the Bristol Channel - at 17 years old he is already an experienced seaman, but even the cox’s son has to go through the rigorous RNLI training to join the lifeboat crew.

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