A COASTGUARD volunteer has reached the regional finals of the Pride of Britain Awards for his life-saving work in memory of a friend.

Coastguard station officer Ian Brown is one of four finalists in the Meridian region of the competition which celebrates the remarkable individuals who work to make our communities a better place.

Ian was nominated by Peter Wakefield for helping the Swanage Community Defibrillator Partnership equip the town and surrounding areas with the life saving machines.

The father-of-three said he was inspired to get involved with the project after his good friend and fellow coastguard collapsed and died 13 years ago.

He said: “I vowed we would get some public access defibrillators.

“So, 18 months ago we started a project to put four defibrillators in the town, and 18 months later we are up to 20 in the community. We have achieved what we set out to achieve and more.”

In the last 18 months the devices have been used a total of 17 times, three of those in the last month alone.

Ian said: “I am very proud to be nominated, it is a great honour and recognition for what we have achieved so far.

“I am very lucky to work with quite a few equally minded people who achieve so much in the community.”

A full-time police trainer for Dorset Police, Ian has juggled the project alongside his work as a volunteer coastguard.

After 26 years of service, he said he spends so much time volunteering for HM coastguard that people mistake it for his paid occupation.

“Most people think I work for the coastguard full time, and sometimes it feels like I do. Getting the life, work, volunteering balance is hard sometimes, but it is all about doing your bit for the community. You can sit by and point out everything that is wrong or you can do something about it and that’s what I am doing.”

He said: “I don’t know where the years have gone. We’ve had a lot of good times and we’ve had some sad times.

“I have volunteered for far more than what is average these days. The average is probably about 10 years now. Unfortunately, volunteering across all sectors is declining as everybody is just so busy.”

Ian and the team ran two CPR and defibrillator workshops in Swanage as part of Restart a Heart Day on Monday.

The Pride of Britain Awards will be screened on October 31.