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FROM LANDFILL TO LIFEBOATS

IT'S ALL IN A DAY'S WORK FOR SITA UK'S ANDREW SIMPSON

There is no such thing as a typical day in the office for landfill site supervisor Andrew Simpson as he could be called on at a moment's notice day or night to save lives at sea.

As a volunteer crew member at Blyth's Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) station, 35-year-old Andrew is always ready to react when his pager activates to rescue someone whose life may be in danger. And this can mean being called away at a moment's notice from his day job at SITA UK's Seghill landfill site, Northumberland.

Andrew fulfilled a childhood dream when he joined the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in 2001 while serving on the minesweeper HMS Blyth.
“My family is originally from Stornaway in Scotland and there are four generations of RNLI volunteers dating back to the early 19th century, so it is a real passion of mine and something I have grown up with.”

As a helmsman, Andrew is fully qualified to command Blyth's D class inshore lifeboat, the Jennie B. He is also the station's training co-ordinator and arranges a number of courses, such as first-aid, for the station.

Andrew has experienced many rescues during his time at Blyth lifeboat station. He added: “On average, the crew gets called out three or four times a month and it can be at all times of the day or night. Weekends can be especially busy.

“I love the challenges that being a RNLI volunteer brings. It really doesn't bother me to get out of bed at 3am in the morning when it's cold and dark and head out to the bitter North Sea!”

One of Andrew's most memorable rescues was in January this year when a jetskier ran into trouble a mile offshore, wearing only a thin wetsuit. Andrew said: “As a first time jet skier, he was very brave to even consider getting into the freezing sea! He was ever so happy to see the lifeboat after events took a more dangerous turn, as they often can in these waters.

“Most of the people that we help are very grateful to be rescued and become firm supporters of the service, even helping to raise funds through charity events. Some people might be a little embarrassed about being assisted by the RNLI and sometimes even think they don't need help, but generally we are viewed as being an invaluable part of the emergency services.

“I see being a part of the lifeboat search and rescue team as a chance to help people who are in real trouble or danger, and not everybody has this opportunity, or is perhaps even capable of the physical and mental challenges. I never see this job as a chore. If you have to motivate yourself to get out of bed, you won't be volunteering very long!”

Andrew is also an active member of the fundraising team and regularly takes part in visits to schools and youth groups as part of the RNLI's sea safety education programme.

“Fundraising is an integral part of the RNLI's activities and ensures that lifeboat stations such as Blyth are open all year round and manned 24 hours a day. We have recently raised enough to help build a new lifeboat station at Blyth to replace the original which was built in 1926.”

In his normal working life, Andrew is responsible for the day-to-day running of SITA UK's landfill site near Seghill, having joined one of the country's largest
recycling and waste management companies in 2005.

“I am very lucky, in that SITA UK is very supportive of my role at the RNLI and I can be at Blyth station within 10 minutes of leaving the office to respond to an emergency call. Being able to combine my job at SITA UK and my role as a volunteer at RNLI is very fulfilling.”

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