The Broadcast / Mali Parry-Jones | RNLI Porthdinllaen Volunteer

Mali Parry-Jones | RNLI Porthdinllaen Volunteer

Mali Parry-Jones is a longstanding ten-year RNLI volunteer, based at Porthdinllaen situated on the Llŷn Peninsula, on the north west coast of Wales. A TV producer in her day-job, she is a fully qualified navigator aboard the all-weather lifeboat the John D Spicer, as well as one of the casualty carers.

With passion and courage, ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Our collaboration with the RNLI celebrates the fortitude of those volunteer crews who brave the ocean’s unfathomable power to keep their communities safe. As part of the project, we sat down with four volunteers from around the country to hear their stories.


4 min read

Words by Mali Parry-Jones

Images by Kristina Banholzer

What inspired you to join your local RNLI lifeboat crew? Was there a specific incident or moment that made you want to volunteer?

The lifeboats have always been part of the community here at Morfa Nefyn. It’s just always been part of the conversation between the local folk here; from the call outs to the fundraising, it’s just always been there. I remember as a child being so excited whenever I heard the maroons go off. No matter what time of day or night it was and either cycling down to the beach, or to the cliffs car park, just to watch the lifeboat launch. Or, in the night, I’d stand by the window with my dad watching all the car lights driving along the golf course down to the station. It was all quite thrilling really, to say the least. Also the beach here was in fact our playground. When we were growing up we used to go down to the beach all year round. Just to play and hang out after school, on weekends, during holidays, whenever we got the chance really. So my lifeboat journey began about ten years ago when I joined. Another female crew member had already joined then, so I guess that kind of opened the door for me maybe I don’t know, who knows.

The RNLI has a long and proud history of saving lives at sea. How much is that heritage taught as part of the culture, and does it inspire you to do what you do?

The RNLI have been here at Porthdinllaen since 1864, so that’s over 150 years ago. We have lots of photographs and pictures of the old crew members and the previous lifeboats in our crew room and all around the station from the days of the old wooden boats with oars, that were pulled down to the sea by horses, and crew members with really long beards and cork vest or lifejackets.

I think that’s so important, just to see these pictures every time you go down to the station, and maybe just take a second or two to reflect and remember, and just appreciate how fortunate we are today at Porthdinllaen; with a new station, a Tamar class lifeboat and all the latest pieces of kit. We’re just so privileged, I feel. It really does inspire me to do what we do and just to keep the tradition going.

To many you’re considered Heroes. There’s even a bit of a superhero comparison with how the pager goes off and you have to run out and get changed into gear in a flash. But how do you personally view the volunteering work you do?

Heroes? Well, I definitely don’t consider myself to be a hero. I think that the volunteering work you do is something that’s engrained in you as a person. That being the fact that you want to do your bit and just help somebody out. I think it’s the idea of somebody being out there at sea that really needs your help. There’s absolutely no bravado about it at all. It’s just about going out there to sea, to rescue somebody’s life. And that’s it.

The sea conditions you’re going out in are not for the faint hearted, even with the extensive training and equipment provided. Do you remember a time when you were particularly scared or daunted during a rescue?

Personally, I think that it’s a scary thing not to be scared or afraid of the sea. I think that not even the most experienced seaman or women can be confident themselves that they know, or can read the sea. You’ve always got to be at the edge of your seat, no matter what the weather or sea conditions are like. It is true what they say, the sea does not take any prisoners at all. But I do guess, at the end of the day, you just have to put your faith in the fact that the RNLI have ensured that you and your fellow crew members have had the best training possible and are in the safest environment possible, whatever the circumstances may be.

As a long-standing member of the RNLI, and with a partner who is also a volunteer, can you speak a little to the sense of community within the RNLI family? Is there competition between stations or are you all one big happy family?

There’s always been a sense of community within the RNLI family. Certainly here in Porthdinllaen, but I think on a wider scale also. As a volunteer crew member I can guarantee that there will be a warm welcome and a panad, or cup of tea, at any lifeboat station you visit. Living in a small village like Morfa Nefyn, we’re so fortunate to have such great support from the local people and the tourists alike, and that being all year round. It’s always been like that. I really do think that RNLI Porthdinallen holds a very special place in the hearts of many RNLI supporters all over the county.

Can you sum up your work with the RNLI in one word?

Err… fulfilling. Yeah, for sure. Fulfilling.

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