All at sea with local hero

When Robert Frost, the company and quality improvements manager at Allan Brothers, rushes out of the company’s Berwick-upon-Tweed factory in the middle of the day, it’s no cause for concern.

That’s because Robert is one of the volunteer coxswains on the local RNLI lifeboat, and he has the full backing of Allan Brothers to leave his post whenever he’s on duty and an emergency call comes in.

The Berwick-upon-Tweed lifeboat station has two boats – an all weather (AWB) and a reinforced inflatable (RIB) – and is very proud of the fact that, because the crew all live and work nearby, it can get both of these into the water within six minutes.

The crew faces enormous challenges: they are called out up to 50 times a year to rescue sailors, fishermen and holidaymakers who have got into difficulties in the North Sea, up to 50 miles from the coast, and often in the cold and the dark.

However, they are all volunteers and do all their training in their spare time. Neither they nor the RNLI itself receive any government funding, and the entire service is funded by public donations. It costs £260,000 a year to maintain the Berwick-upon-Tweed station for example, and £149 million for the whole service, so the backing of employers like Allan Brothers is crucial.

Wolfgang Gorner, Allan Brothers’ sales director, said: “We’re proud of the fact that we’re such an important part of the local community here in Berwick. Heritage and tradition really matter to us, and supporting something as iconic and worthwhile as the RNLI feels very natural.”

The AWB at Berwick-upon-Tweed lifeboat station is currently under threat and everyone at the station and in the town is working hard to try to retain the boat for future generations.