For Mike Buckland, protecting public health has been both a full-time job and a part-time vocation. He’s a project manager in the United Kingdom for CSL Seqirus, one of the world’s largest providers of influenza vaccines. And for the last 23 years, he has answered 181 emergency calls to save lives at sea.
Buckland recently retired from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) near his home in Weston-super-Mare, United Kingdom – and his service earned him an MBE or Member of the Order of the British Empire. The Honours System of The United Kingdom awards MBEs twice a year to recognize achievements and outstanding service to the community.
Buckland served in two RNLI posts, volunteer lifeboat helm and lifeboat operations manager. The helm is in charge of the boat, the crew and how the rescue is performed. The lifeboat operations manager runs the station, manages 35 volunteers and authorizes their training and rescue missions. It all added up to many hours of training and the willingness to respond any time of day or night to the call of his pager.
“It’s a huge privilege to have been recognized, as I’m sure there are many other people out there who have completed similar work to me,” Buckland said. “I will be accepting this award on behalf of not only me, but my wife and children too. Without their unwavering support I could not have done what I did given all the hours of training and having to leave them at a moment’s notice when the pager went off and a rescue was required.”
He says his aspiration to be a part of the RNLI began long ago when he was a Boy Scout and had a fascination with the lifeboat in town. As he got older and finished at university, he settled back in town, applied for the RNLI and the rest is history, Buckland said.
“I absolutely loved being part of a team able to offer help to people in a whole variety of difficult and or dangerous circumstances,” he said. “The thought of anyone losing their life at sea near where I live is an awful thought and if I could do something to stop that, then why wouldn’t I want to try?”
He relates his drive to protect the public back to CSL’s patient focus, which is what he embodies in and out of the office.
“Whilst at work I always have in mind the benefits that my projects will bring to the patients we serve and, in the same way, every rescue that I went out on had a focus, one or more casualties, who had our absolute attention until they were safe from their predicament,” he said.