Matthew Foster passed out as Aberdeen RNLI’s newest volunteer Coxswain on March 30, 2023.

Matthew, a full-time Principle Teach of Art, Design & Technology at a local city secondary school, has volunteered for the RNLI since 2001 and recently passed out as Coxswain. The coxswain role is responsible for the safety of all volunteer crew on the all weather lifeboat.

Joining Queensferry RNLI in 2001, Matthew was not new to the RNLI. As a Sea Cadet at TS Lochinvar in Port Edgar Marina, Matthew knew some of the instructors on the Queensferry crew and would act as a casualty during vital crew training sessions. At the age of 17, Matthew officially joined the RNLI crew.

Ten years later, Matthew made the move to Aberdeen and was offered a volunteer position at the local station in Aberdeen City. In his time, Matthew has progressed through the ranks, having trained and held roles as inshore lifeboat (ILB) Helm and all-weather lifeboat (ALB) navigator and mechanic.

Speaking of his time with the RNLI, Matthew said: “To ensure that the lifeboat can launch, we require a coxswain and mechanic for the ALB and a helm for the ILB, so for us to have 365-day, 24/7 coverage, it’s important that we have a well-trained crew across all levels. Coxswain was a natural progression from mechanic and involved a lot of training and assessments to pass out. While the coxswain is responsible for the safety of everyone involved in a shout, it’s a team effort.”

All but one of Aberdeen’s crew are volunteers and Matthew is no exception. He continued: “Volunteering for the RNLI can be time-consuming and given the nature of what we do, it can be unpredictable. I’m so lucky that my work is encouraging of my volunteering, allowing me to attend training and shouts but I really couldn’t do this without the support of my wife and my family. I have two young boys – five and nine years old – who keep us on our toes, but my wife, Louise, is so supportive and understanding of my role at the RNLI. Without that support, it simply wouldn’t be possible.”

Aberdeen’s full-time coxswain/mechanic, Cal Reed, celebrated the hard work and commitment of Foster: “Matthew went on the coxswain development plan in January 2022, and we’re delighted – and unsurprised – to be celebrating his pass out. His decades of experience and hundreds of shouts, makes him the perfect candidate for this position within the crew here – he’ll be a fantastic leader.

‘I can speak for everyone at Aberdeen lifeboat station when I say that we’re so proud of him and cannot wait to sit beside Matthew as he embarks on this new challenge.”

In Matthew's 22 years as a RNLI volunteer, he has been involved in countless numbers of shouts and rescues, the most notable being a 12-hour search aboard the city’s all weather lifeboat.

However, when asked to tell us something interesting about his time he told us: “Volunteering for the RNLI is more than just training and shouts. It offers once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

“Not long after joining the Aberdeen crew, our all weather lifeboat, Bon Accord, went on passage to the west coast for its MTU engine fit-out. On route, we took in sights like the Caledonian Canal, Corryvreckan, – no whirlpools in sight – had a stop in Oban and then round Ailsa Craig before tying up in Girvan. It was an amazing experience and not something that you get to do every day!”

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