Mr Derek Jones.
Derek is the Chairman of the Leicestershire RNLI.
He gave us a succinct rundown of the history of the RLNI from its foundation in 1824 by William Hilary as The National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck. A rather large mouthful, now thankfully abbreviated.
Originally intended for action around the Isle of Man, its remit now covers all of the British Isles and the Irish Republic and over 90,000 miles of coastline and the Institution manages 346 boats of all sizes, the largest and newest costing over £2,000,000 each. The Statistics are impressive, with 237 stations, including four on the Thames, they have so far saved over 140,000 lives with thousands more helped to safety in non life-threatening situations. They also handle lifeguard duties on 240 beaches around the coasts, and work closely with the Emergency Services in serious flood situations.
The crews are all volunteers, except for the permanent station on Spurn Point which is too far from habitation to be able to call on volunteers in reasonable time.The work is very often dangerous and has led to the tragic loss of crew men from time to time. The worst tragedy in recent times was the loss of the Penlee boat in 1981 during hurricane force winds.
The crews are thoroughly trained at the national Training Centre in Poole where they can simulate almost every situation the crews are likely to meet. They are also trained in First Aid and their boats are fully equipped to help in this. The biggest boats can often carry, or call upon, qualified doctors as part of their crew. They even once mounted a dog kennel on one boat to illustrate the fact that a lot of rescues involve adults trying to save their dogs. When the dogs could easily save themselves!
Derek finished his talk with a short film on the work of the Institution, showing both simulated and actual rescues in progress. One brave U3A member demonstrated the kit the men (and women) wear. It is heavy and hot, but a life saver.
There was a lively Q&A session covering the equivalent services in other countries, what tests and training takes place at the Centre and elsewhere, the range and types of boats (none now propelled by oars!) some of which can drive at 40 knots.
The dedication and skill of the crew has to be seen to be believed, despite their meagre recompense. It may not need emphasising here, but the Institution relies almost exclusively on donations to cover its costs of £146,000,000 per year.
A true inspiration and a cautionary tale for all those who venture on or near the water.
|23 January||John Wilton||Railway journeys around the world|
|27 February||Fran Sandham||A solo walk in Africa|
|27 March||Margaret Harrison||Becoming a Blue Badge guide|
Tea Rota, Meeters & Greeters, Reporting Groups
|Month||Tea Group||Meet & Greet||Reporting Groups|
|December||Committee for Christmas event||Committee||no reports this month|
|January||Jane Harris, Wendy Somers, Judith Wardell, Jill Carr|
|February||Glenys Morrice, Maggie Rice, Avril & Bill Wilson|
|March||John Howlett, Neil Roberts, Joyce Ottey, Mary Gough|
|April||Jane Barnett, June Meir, Marion Shuttleworth, Sheila Hampson|
|November||Jenny & Pete Slawson, Bridget & Jim Fairway|