Revd Paul Rossiter is the Vicar of St Hildeburgh's Parish Church, Hoylake and also the Chaplain for the town's RNLI Lifeboat station. We asked him what it means to be a chaplain for the RNLI and how this part of his ministry sits alongside being a vicar for the local church.
" For me, it's a great honour to be a Chaplain for the RNLI", says Paul, who has a great deal of respect for the people at the Hoylake station, most of whom are volunteers, giving their time freely, and at risk to their own lives to save the lives of others.
"There's a great sense of community among those at the station", he says. And it's easy to see why. "Being a crew member on a lifeboat is a highly charged environment, that carries an element of risk, where everyone's safety is highly dependent on the abilities and professionalism of every other person working alongside you. Trust, and faith in the people next to you build a strong bond that sticks with crew members for a lifetime."
It's the nature of the role to be able to get to the station within minutes of receiving an emergency call, which is why those who work at the station are very local to the area. For Paul, this means that his relationship with the people at the RNLI isn't just confined to his visits to the station. He meets their children at school, has chance meetings on the high street, conducts weddings for their families and chats over a pint in the local pub, which, being a relaxed environment, can help people be more open about their worries.
Whilst not all of the team at the station are Christian, Paul says that they are all very supportive of what a chaplain brings to the station. One of the highlights of their annual calendar is the RNLI church service (pictured above) which is followed by a barbeque that Paul organises especially for the crew in the vicarage garden. It's something that full-time mechanic, Harry, is already thinking about, "I'm looking forward to getting out of this cold weather and looking forward to the barbeque in the summer." Harry has known Paul for twelve years and is getting married to his fiance at St Hildeburgh's in July, with Revd Paul as the celebrant, a testament to how Paul's ministry is all about people and community. For Paul, being both a chaplain and a vicar are not two separate roles, but one, to serve God, under his calling.