RNLI volunteer, Becky Mack is blushing. She’s just been stopped by yet another Swanage resident who saw her in the BBC’s Saving Lives at Sea series. Clearly, Becky is embarrassed by all the attention, but the respect is well-deserved. Her bleeper could go off at any moment and she would find herself sprinting down to the lifeboat station, not knowing what emergency she and fellow crew are being called to. If I’m out, she says, I always think: have I got the right shoes? Is the car parked for a quick exit?
Helping a stranger is the ultimate calling, but an RNLI volunteer also puts their own life in the trust of the crew. Volunteers come from different backgrounds, but signing up, Becky says, is a decision to commit: an obligation to fit your life around the service. For her, it’s been a natural choice. Many Swanage volunteers grew up together; Becky might find herself out on the water with an old friend from primary school. The crew help each other manage difficult experiences, so their bond becomes close. It seems to reflect strong community values.
And, of course, this isn’t even Becky’s day job. After uni, and time travelling, Becky turned her science degree and her impressive organisational skills into a career as a patent attorney. She helps inventors protect their idea, which means she must rapidly learn every detail about it, and then argue its case to an adjudicator. She loves how this engages different bits of her brain. Sometimes, she’s dealing with multiple inventions in one day; it could be new footwear, fishing gear or gym equipment. One of the most gratifying has been a life-changing device that reduces tremors for people with Parkinson’s Disease.
Purbeck has offered balance in her life, and Becky thinks she’s not alone. People want to live here, in this community, in this environment, she tells me. People who moved away are coming back; finding ways to set up small businesses or generate new activities. Times are not easy, but Purbeck seems to be more vibrant and varied than ever. Becky is calm, collected, competent and compassionate; the sort of person you’d want to help build the future.
Interviewed by Sue Western - Sept 2021