Life-saver Luke follows in father’s footsteps

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LIKE father... like son.

South Tyneside College marine student Luke McGill will never find himself all at sea if he follows in the footsteps of his highly-trained dad.

Luke, 19, hopes to emulate his master mariner father Gerry with a life on the ocean waves – and is studying nautical science to help him get there.

He has already stepped into Gerry’s shoes by becoming an active volunteer with the life-saving sea rescuers, the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI).

It is a role dedicated Gerry has undertaken for a number of years.

Luke is South Shields College’s latest link with the RNLI, helping continue a tradition of students and graduates volunteering with the charities’ Sunderland station over the years.

Others who have passed through the college and now give their spare time to the lifeboat charity include retired master mariner Captain Peter Mitchell and current captain James T Jamieson.

Luke, who last year completed his A levels at St. Aidan’s RC School, Sunderland, and is now being sponsored on his three to four-year college course by a shipping company, said: “I love my course and I also thoroughly enjoy the time I give to the RNLI.

“It’s very important to me, to gain as much experience as possible about, on and around the sea and helping the organisation with its vital work enables me to do that.

“I’ve also been able to do my Duke of Edinburgh award through the RNLI, which was a real bonus.”

Gerry, 52, gained an HND in nautical science at the college in the late 1970s, and has since pursued a successful seagoing career.

In 2011, he obtained his Masters Certificate, and is captain of a vessel in the North Sea oil industry.

He now acts as deputy launching authority at the RNLI’s Sunderland station at Marine Activity Centre, North Dock, Roker, which means he is responsible for which rescues to attend.

Gerry said: “There is a very long tradition of students from the college getting involved in the RNLI.

“Working with the RNLI is such an invaluable thing to do for anyone who likes being on the water and has an aptitude for it.

“I am very proud to be part of such a great organisation and I’m delighted that Luke feels the same.”

Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station is the country’s oldest operational lifeboat station, having opened in 1800 and taken over by the RNLI in 1865.

Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman with RNLI Sunderland, said: “It is wonderful that the connection between South Tyneside College and the RNLI remains strong.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul

to this day.”

Twitter @shieldsgazpaul