AN ASPIRING actress has returned home to the Isle of Wight for the summer where she is on call to help save lives.

Sid McLaren, 19, of Freshwater Bay, has just completed a one-year Royal Academy of Dramatic Art course and intends to return to London after a break.

In the meantime, she is training to become a full member of the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat crew and says the experience has helped her to grow up.

Sid, whose father Rob is lifeboat chairman and a crew member, said: "The water has been a huge part of my life.

"Growing up I represented the Island at swimming in two youth games and a senior games in Bermuda when I was 14.

"I was accepted for a swimming scholarship in Plymouth where I attended a boarding school but I had to quit after being diagnosed with a heart condition which took three procedures to correct.

"I had always wanted to be part of the crew and I eventually joined when I was 17. It is a fantastic experience to be out on the water and look back at the beautiful West Wight landscape.

"It has helped me grow up and given me a lot of life experience because saving lives is so serious and important. It is also a lot of fun and I would recommend joining to any young person.

"When I came back to the Island for the summer, I wanted to give back something to the local people because of their support for me when I was swimming."

Unable to compete at swimming, Sid turned to acting having taken part in RedTIE Theatre productions on the Isle of Wight when she was growing up and attended the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in Croydon before being accepted for RADA.

She is working at the Royal Solent Yacht Club, Yarmouth, during the summer and added: "I've had an amazing last year and learned so much.

"I love London and will return after a break, but I am in touch with acting agencies and hope to get some work in the near future."