Two years ago this week, I launched my Patreon page — a way for the people who follow my project to help fund it.
It’s a dimension to the project that has become an unexpected journey in itself.
Last week I received the following message from one of my patrons, illustrating exactly what I mean:
My name’s Richard Monje, one of the patrons for your awesome project. I messaged you about 6 months ago to say that your project had inspired me to join up. Well, last week was my first exercise afloat with Whitstable Lifeboat.
Local photographer Andrew Hastings got this impressive shot of me (pictured below) in the harbour while we were setting off some smoke.
Anyway, cheers for inspiring me to get out and do something positive and keep up the great work.
Isn’t that incredible?
When I set off on this journey in January 2015, I thought I’d simply be telling the story of a band of people that I’ve held in high esteem since childhood — the lifeboat volunteers dotted around our shores.
I would never have dreamed of receiving this kind of news, that my own journey would have inspired somebody to wander down to their local lifeboat station and signup to become a volunteer.
I asked Richard how he was finding life at Whitstable Lifeboat Station and he was kind enough to share these thoughts with me:
So far life as a lifeboat crew volunteer at Whitstable has been fantastic. It’s great to feel as though you are doing something meaningful with your spare time and giving something back. It’s very rewarding to be part of an organisation that is at the heart of the local community and I’m very proud to call myself an RNLI crew member.
When I started at Whitstable, I had no idea what to expect, and having not come from a boating background I had a lot to learn…
The staff and crew have been fantastic and I’ve learnt a lot from them in a short time. I didn’t know much about the role of a lifeboat volunteer before I started following your project — the main thing that struck me was how many people are involved in running just one station.
My interest in the RNLI grew as a direct result of following your project, until I eventually felt as though I had to try and sign up.
I know there may be times ahead when I’m challenged or I may push out of my comfort zone, but I know I’ve got a great team to support me if need be.
I haven’t looked back, I enjoy every minute.
I really couldn’t have wished for a finer outcome. I’m sure I speak for all of us in wishing you the very best on your journey as a lifesaver, Richard.
My only “regret” is that Richard joined Whitstable RNLI after I made this crew photograph in September 2018:
Perhaps I’ll need to make a return visit one day…?
My thanks to Richard for his ongoing support, for sharing this wonderful news with me and, in turn, for allowing me to share it with you. In this tempestuous world, I reckon we need more good news stories like this one!
If you’d like to volunteer at your local lifeboat station, you can find out more on the RNLI website.
WHAT IS THE LIFEBOAT STATION PROJECT?
Currently scheduled for completion in 2022, The Lifeboat Station Project is an 8 year art project funded by my supporters and print sales.
To date, I’ve photographed 148 RNLI lifeboat stations over the last five years with 90 remaining over the next three years.
I’ve also compiled a Frequently Asked Questions page.
If you’d like to become a patron of the project, you can join Richard and over 200 others from as little as £3/$3 per month.
At the time of writing, I’m edging closer to my goal of 238 patrons, equivalent to one patron for every lifeboat station on my journey…
Find out more here:
…or head to the Become a Supporter page to learn about all the ways you can pledge your support to The Lifeboat Station Project.
Thank you to Andrew Hastings of imagedrum.uk for kindly supplying the photograph of Richard. Andrew also took some excellent behind-the-scenes photographs during my visit to Whitstable in September 2018, so it’s been great to be in touch again.