A Fife fisherman who was caught up in a trawler tragedy has overcome post traumatic stress disorder to help the RNLI save the lives of other seafarers.
Tam Fyall is now deputy second coxswain at Anstruther Lifeboat Station.
The appointment marks a remarkable turnaround for the 59-year-old who was left too distressed to leave shore after the Meridian disaster in 2006.
The accident claimed the lives of Fifers Martin Gardner, 49, Edward Gardner, 50, and Ian Donald, 55, as well as Sidney Low, 52, from Aberdeen.
Only Edward Gardner’s body was ever found.
Tam normally sailed with them aboard the Meridian but was asked to take charge of another boat, the Duthies II, on the night of October 26, 2006 to cover for another crew member who was on holiday.
The two trawlers were guarding a section of pipeline under construction some 160 miles east of Aberdeen when contact with the Meridian was lost during force 10 and 11 gales.
Tam tried to reach his colleagues aboard the stricken vessel but to no avail.
An intensive search took place throughout the night after which he and his crew were stood down.
As they embarked on the long sail back, the news they all had dreaded sadly filtered through to them. A body had been recovered.
Tam said he would never forget his lost friends but he was sure they would approve of his new role with the RNLI.
“Coming back into Peterhead that morning in 2006, I never envisaged I would take charge of a lifeboat and her crew at the drop of a hat,” he said.
“The level of training and commitment given by the RNLI crew has helped me overcome my fears and I have my confidence back.”
Tam battled post traumatic stress disorder and struggled to overcome the loss. But in 2007, he felt the time was right to get back into work and he became harbour master in Pittenweem.
Based onshore, he took charge of the day to day running of the busy port used by prawn and creel fishermen.
His cousin, former Anstruther Lifeboat second coxswain, Alex Purves encouraged him to start volunteering for the RNLI.
And after a couple of years on dry land, Tam took the brave decision to become a crew member aboard Anstruther Lifeboat.
Tam said he was relishing being part of a close team at sea again and his experiences had left him in no doubt about the valuable role of the RNLI in coastal communities.
“I still find myself preaching to seafarers on safety, lifejackets and planning,” he said.
“I want to help and make a difference as I have seen how perilous the sea can be.”