Hero Ribble Valley man ‘survives’ on liferaft

SUCCESS: Back on shore, Rob is happy at raising three times the sponsor money he expected.
SUCCESS: Back on shore, Rob is happy at raising three times the sponsor money he expected.

seafaring folk in Devon gave former Ribble Valley man Rob Park a hero’s reception when he completed a survival challenge in a liferaft for the RNLI.

Rob (24), a former head boy at Bowland High School, Grindleton, spent 24 hours in an inflatable liferaft, with just an emergency grab bag and its contents, for the Sponsor Our Survivor stunt at Salcombe, where he is a member of the lifeboat crew.

Crowds on the quayside shouted their encouragement and donated cash as Rob bobbed about in the harbour.

And at 9 a.m. the next day they cheered when he set off a smoke flare to signal the end.

He then clambered out of the liferaft to swim back to shore, and his lifeboat pals and the local fire brigade sprayed a fan of water into the air to greet him.

Rob said it had been difficult trying to locate his emergency rations in the dark, and it had started raining during the night.

He said: “My time spent within the life raft was a good experience, but at times cold and cramped.

“The temperature dropped down to around zero, but, thankfully, on the whole the weather was very kind to me.”

Rob added that the experience had taught him that no-one would ever want to spend a short time in one of those rafts, let alone 24 hours.

But he is proud that he has so far raised about £3,000 in sponsorship, three times what he expected.

Rob, from Bolton-by-Bowland, has been working for Salcombe Harbour Authority for the past four years and is helmsman of the inshore lifeboat and crew member of the big offshore lifeboat.

Rob’s mum, Denise Park, a physiotherapist in Clitheroe, said: “I’m very proud of Rob, who came up with both the initiative and idea for this challenge.

“The rest of the crew were great support and I received several messages, including one from the lifeboat operations manager, saying how much they all respected him on his achievement.

“Rob wants to say thanks to everyone from ‘up North’ who supported and sponsored him.

“The RNLI survives on charitable donations, and any further donations via the justgiving/sponsoroursurvivor website in recognition of Rob’s achievement would still be gratefully received.”