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Army veteran turned RNLI volunteer

Army veteran Evan Edwards found that he missed “giving” after he left the Army after 25 years of service.

Having joined the Army at the age of 16, Evan saw three tours of Afghanistan, two tours in Ireland and one in Kosovo.

Army calling

"Joining the Army was something I always wanted to do. My next-door neighbour was five years older than me and he joined up and would come home telling stories, so I followed him.”

Army calling

"Joining the Army was something I always wanted to do. My next-door neighbour was five years older than me and he joined up and would come home telling stories, so I followed him.”

After 25 years of service Evan decided to leave after his final tour in Afghanistan.

“On my first tour [in 2006] I was a sergeant, then sergeant major, then Regimental sergeant major, and to take a battalion of soilders out there and train them and bring them back was a good note to end on.”

Evan left the Army and got a job as a driver but found that civilian life was very different to his life in the Army.

RNLI volunteer Evan Edwards

“I was missing the giving – service personnel are givers and when that gets taken away, you’re lost”

Evan Edwards

Army veteran and RNLI volunteer

“I was missing the giving – service personnel are givers and when that gets taken away, you’re lost”

Evan Edwards

Army veteran and RNLI volunteer

 “The adaption to civvy street is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, it’s so different to the military, you find yourself very lonely, very quickly, but I got through it and my family were a massive help.”

“Luckily, I still had a network of soldiers and I’ve kept in touch with them, but the first two years were very hard doing the 8-5.”

That’s when Evan said he found the Royal National Lifeboats Institution and decided to become a volunteer.

“The biggest problem I faced [when I left the Army] was the fact that I needed to give, but I remembered the RNLI from being a Swansea boy, where they have the strongest tide in the northern hemisphere.”

He explained how the RNLI would come to his local school to warn of the perils of the sea.

Having settled in Rhyl, Wales in late 2014 Evan decided to offer his services as a volunteer on the lifeboat service.

Life as a RNLI volunteer

In October 2017 Evan joined the RNLI as a volunteer and got stuck in straight way.

Life as a RNLI volunteer

In October 2017 Evan joined the RNLI as a volunteer and got stuck in straight way.

“I started learning my trade straight away, typical army lad, I got in quick, thousand of miles an hour, but the similarity to the services, which they probably don’t understand is massive,” he said.

“You’re either training or doing it for real and I can see so many similarities. You’ve got a set of rules to follow, as we did in the army.

“And then there’s the uniform, you’re representing something.”

Evan explained how the skills he learnt in the Army have helped him as a lifeboat volunteer. 

“Instruction in the Army was always EDIP (Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice) so having been taught that way, and having taught that way myself, the drills here are exactly the same,” he says.

“On the boat it’s all drills, just like the military, even onshore with the ropes, a lot of the young lads struggle a bit with the ropes and I’ve taken them to one side - because you had to break things down in the military I can do the same thing here and they get it.

“It’s all about helping civilians: that’s what we do in Service, on our missions and our operations, everything is geared to helping people. At home, we covered for the fire strikes in 2002, and we supported during the foot and mouth crisis, and then when you go abroad, you’re serving your country.

“The RNLI mirrors so much it’s frightening, sometimes I think I’m still there!”

Evan is now the Head Launchman, tractor driver, and crew member for both the All-Weather Lifeboat (ALB) and the Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) at Rhyl Lifeboat Station.

“It’s filled a massive gap for me, because I was missing the giving – service personnel are givers and when that gets taken away, you’re lost - but now I’ve found the RNLI.”

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