From chipper to chopper – all in a day’s work for new teen on rescue team

Imagine serving fish and chips one minute, and then being part of an emergency sea rescue with a Coastguard helicopter just metres above your head the next.

That’s all in a day’s work for a young lad from Findhorn who has become the latest, and youngest, recruit at Moray Inshore Rescue Organisation (MIRO).

Jamie Paterson is the 16-year-old son of Findhorn Boatyard owners Simon and Katrina Paterson, and not only has he grown up around boats, he is three times British powerboat champion.

And is if to put him to the test, it wasn’t long after joining MIRO that he was called out on two rescue missions just an hour apart.

The easing of lockdown restrictions coupled with good weather brought an influx of people to the beaches to enjoy the sun, sand and water.

At 1.00pm on Saturday 27 June, MIRO were alerted by a member of the public that people had lost a kayak whilst the tide was coming in at Burghead. The member of the public advised the owners against swimming after the kayak and called MIRO, who gained permission from Aberdeen Coastguard to attend and launched their rescue boat, Glynn Whitehead III, to recover the kayak.

This was the sixth call out for MIRO this year and the fifth since the lockdown restrictions were eased on 29 May. Jamie was first to spot the kayak, which was drifting approximately 1.4 miles from where it had parted from its owners. It was recovered and taken to Burghead harbour.

The boat returned to Findhorn and was made ready for service just in time for the next call-out at 2.15pm! Whilst refuelling, crew were contacted and tasked by Aberdeen Coastguard to assist Police Scotland and HM Coastguard following a report that two people were cut off by the tide at Nairn. MIRO Rescue attended immediately and stood by at the Old Bar, Nairn, while the casualties, who had managed to get back to shore, were checked by HM Coastguard. MIRO rescue returned to Findhorn, accompanied some of the way by Rescue 151 Search & Rescue Helicopter which was on a training exercise in the area.

Jamie joins his dad, Simon Paterson, the longstanding senior coxswain and one of the founders of MIRO. Despite his young age, Jamie comes to the organisation with a wealth of experience with powerboats having competed at national level winning the UK RYA Youth RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) Championship 3 times at the age of 10, 12 and 14.

Jamie said: “Living at Findhorn Marina and my dad being involved with MIRO, I’ve watched the guys training in the bay and the boat going out on shouts and I’ve always been keen to join in and be involved. Since the restrictions with coronavirus I’ve been helping out with the family take away service at the Captain’s Table and helping in the boatyard, so it makes even more sense to join MIRO now as I’m always there on hand and ready to respond quickly if there’s an emergency.

I really enjoyed going out on the shouts on Saturday. It was good experience and a surprise to get the second call out so soon. On the way back from Nairn to Findhorn, it was really special to be escorted some of the way by the Coastguard helicopter. I heard a helicopter and thought surely not, but then I looked up and they were only about 25 metres away! It was really cool!”

MIRO chairman, John Low, said: “For the continued successful operation of MIRO, the board are conscious that we need to encourage younger people to join the organisation. I am delighted to welcome Jamie to the MIRO team. Jamie is the newest and youngest member of the crew but joins with an exceptionally high level of expertise and experience with powerboats. With his skills, experience and enthusiasm, I am sure Jamie will quickly establish himself as a valued member of our team.

MIRO Operations Manager, Peter Mackenzie, said: “Kayaks, canoes and paddleboards are quite often found on the coastline or drifting out to sea. If we don’t know who they belong to, rescue services like MIRO can spend time searching for an owner when they’re home safe and sound.

“I would appeal to owners to help us to help you by labelling your equipment and other items you bring to the coast with your name and contact details so that if you do get separated from it we can contact you to make sure you are safe. Outdoor label name tags can be ordered free online from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. Simply write your contact details onto the paper side and stick onto your piece of equipment.”

MIRO has recently ben granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which it will collect later in the year. The award is considered the ‘MBE for voluntary organisations’.

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