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10 RNLI resolutions for 2018

Across the RNLI, our brave crews, dedicated volunteers, fundraisers and supporters are launching themselves into 2018. From a 10-year-old’s first visit to Ireland to a photographer’s wish to get back into kayaking, it’s shaping up to be a year of dedication, perspiration and inspiration!

RNLI Teddington Crew Member Kay Whittaker.

Photo: RNLI Teddington

1. Kay Whittaker, Crew Member (main picture)

‘I’ve been on the crew at Teddington for 2 years and absolutely love it. I love the work that we do on and off the water, and the team that we have. On an open day, little girls will come up to me and they’ll just stand and stare. I can see them recalculating in their brains that girls can do it too and I love that we can inspire them.

‘Last year was an exciting time for me. I’ve been the only woman on the crew here for a good 12 months and we’ve just had three female trainees sign up. One of our new crew members joined as a result of seeing an article I did with our local newspaper, which has been a big help as some women are under the impression we still only have men on the crews!

‘It’s sometimes overlooked, but having female crew can make a big difference on shouts. I was very touched when a woman we’d rescued from Kingston Bridge recently visited the station to thank us for saving her life. I’d spent a long time sitting with her and comforting her, so I was glad to see her come back and hear she was getting the help she needed.

‘My resolution this year is to complete my crew assessments and commence my helm development plan.

‘Because the D class lifeboat only requires three crew, we’re really excited about the prospect of getting our first all-female crew out on the boat in the near future – perhaps that could happen in 2018 too.'

2. Gerry Kelly, Fundraiser and Lifeboat Press Officer

Clogher Head Mersey class lifeboat Doris Bleasdale. Clogher Head has Ireland’s only beach-launched RNLI lifeboat.

Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

Clogher Head Mersey class lifeboat Doris Bleasdale. Clogher Head has Ireland’s only beach-launched RNLI lifeboat

‘By the end of 2018, we’re aiming to raise €150,000 towards a new Shannon class lifeboat for Clogher Head Lifeboat Station and everyone in the community is stepping up to take on the challenge.

'We’re all working hard on a host of events that will help push us over the €150,000 goal. In February, former Crew Member Fran Caffrey will be the only Irish competitor among 30 international athletes taking part in an Arctic race in the far north of the Swedish tundra. The race covers 144 miles in 5 days and Fran will be tested by challenging conditions, with temperatures ranging from -40 to -10°C. In March, our first ever Oskar’s takes place in Drogheda, where seven short films produced by local actors will be shown and judged. We’ll also be making a big push during the summer open day, and other events through the year.

‘The new boat will replace our Mersey class, the Doris Bleasdale, which has served us faithfully since 1993. The Shannon‘s the first modern all-weather lifeboat (ALB) propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making her the most agile and manoeuvrable ALB yet. The crew are excited to see what she can do around our coast here.’

You can support the Clogher Head lifeboat appeal here.

3. George Rawlinson, Operations Director

George Rawlinson, Operations Director

Photo: RNLI/David Riley

George Rawlinson, Operations Director

‘The tragedy of drowning and accidental coastal fatalities remains with us each year. And the reality is: so many accidents are preventable. Looking ahead in 2018, it’s vital the RNLI – in partnership and collaboration with others – remains determined to tackle this issue, both locally and globally.

‘That’s the “what” for this coming year, so how do we do this?

‘Maintaining a world-class rescue service is at the core of what we do. We need to invest in this service, improve it even further, and never ever take it for granted or become complacent about its importance.

‘Internationally, especially in Bangladesh, our work in the community is already saving lives – and crucially helping the local population to learn the skills they need to sustain that.

‘And the very essence of the RNLI is its people. They – you – bring life to the service, both in rescue and prevention, by living the values of being trustworthy, dependable, courageous and selfless. You are the reason that when people speak of the RNLI they will say: “Just look at how magnificent the RNLI volunteers are and their contribution to saving lives. I want to be a part of that.

‘Our role here is to respect that. And to ensure that the RNLI provides the very best equipment and support to our people. If we stick to these principles we will thrive and our tireless fundraisers will continue to win the hearts and minds of the public, generating the support we need to sustain this fine organisation well into the future, leaving it in good shape for our successors.’

4. Emily Enya, Project Manager for Felix Foundation, Ghana

Emily Enya

Photo: Marc Schlossman

‘I’m Emily Enya from Ghana. I’m a project manager for Felix Foundation, working on its water survival programme – and I’m a member of the RNLI’s 2017 Future Leaders in Lifesaving programme.

‘I am a lifesaver because I remember an incident where a friend died through drowning. When people narrate their stories about how they lost their child in the water, I feel their pain. Through this tragedy I fell in love with the idea of saving lives.

‘People tend to drown during holidays or festive seasons, when they go out to the beach or pool to have fun. Then, we tend to see lots of bodies washed ashore.

‘Currently the Felix Foundation lacks funding, so in 2018 we hope to get more donors and be able to attract more funding from external people. And maybe move the project across the entire region of Ghana, instead of concentrating on one region.’

5. John Soones, Community Safety Officer

Community Safety Officer John Soones

Photo: RNLI/Nathan Williams

‘I’m a volunteer community safety officer for the River Thames, around the Kingston area. So my role encompasses many different people, groups and activities.

‘In 2018 my resolution is to see three rowing clubs each week, with safety visits. We’ve been finding that visits offering free checks of lifejackets are very fruitful, with a failure rate of anything from 50–100%.

‘Another area of drowning prevention that we don’t often talk about is our work to reduce incidents of self harm on the river. Around a third of deaths on the Thames are a result of self harm, a third from accidents, with a further third unknown.

‘People can find themselves in a difficult situation for many different reasons, whether due to financial struggles, bereavement, drug or alcohol use, mental ill-health. And any one of us could find ourselves at a point of crisis in our lifetime. Research shows that 90% of people who have an intervention do not make a second attempt. The RNLI’s expertise in this scenario is rescue, but we can work with others to ensure those we rescue receive appropriate and comprehensive support.

‘I’ve been working with other organisations and groups to establish stronger links, so that we can build a system of intervention that reaches beyond just rescuing someone from the water.

‘One of the groups proving instrumental on the frontline is the Street Pastors, whose volunteers – like the RNLI – have a single-minded focus of helping people. They’re out at busy times in the evenings and weekends, helping people into taxis, carrying throw bags and keeping an eye on those by the river, and advising people where they can get help.

‘Someone once said: “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” In 2018 I want us to take steps towards people finding the help they need to avoid ever finding themselves in that situation again.

‘As for a personal resolution: not to eat Christmas pudding or turkey for 50 weeks!’

If you or someone you know needs support, contact the Samaritans in the first instance. In an emergency by the coast, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

6. Jack Lowe, Photographer

Photographer Jack Lowe with the crew from Valentia.

Photo: Duncan Davis

Photographer Jack Lowe with the crew from Valentia

‘There were so many highlights in 2017. One of them was reaching a huge landmark on The Lifeboat Station Project: my 100th station at Valentia in Co Kerry, the most westerly point on the network.

‘It turned out to be a particularly memorable occasion as the crew presented me with a plaque on Valentia slate to mark the achievement. I’ll treasure it for the rest of my days.

‘In the year ahead, I’m aiming to visit around 40 RNLI lifeboat stations. And there’s another exciting landmark ahead: station 119, the halfway point. Watch this space to see which station that will be.

‘And resolutions? I’m not normally one to make new year’s resolutions, as I’m always trying to be the best Jack that I can be. But I’m determined to rejuvenate my passion for kayaking, which was a huge part of my life from 11 to 20 years old. It got lost in the mix somewhere along the line and I’ve missed it terribly.’

7. Mark Willcock, Education Volunteer

The RNLI Young Adults Programme is set to expand in 2018.

Photo: RNLI

The RNLI Young Adults Programme is set to expand in 2018

‘Historically, RNLI education visits have been aimed at primary and secondary school children. Over the last 2 years, though, we've designed, trialled and rolled out the Young Adult Programme specifically targeted at people aged 16 to 25 in Further and Higher Education colleges.

‘Young adults are at high risk of drowning. People of this age don't want to be talked down to or told what to do, but to understand the consequences and make their own decisions. Everything from taking that moment to stop and think before tombstoning at the coast, to choosing a different route home that avoids a river or canal bank after a night out.

‘Our hope is that the programme will equip and empower young adults to face challenge and risk and know how to respond to it.’

To find out more about the Young Adult Programme and how it can help people at your college or university, contact our Education Team.

8. Anton Page, Lifeguard Supervisor

Lifeguard Supervisor Anton Page in Newquay Harbour with the RNLI Face-to-Face Team.

Photo: RNLI/Simon Hannaford

Lifeguard Supervisor Anton Page in Newquay Harbour with the RNLI Face-to-Face Team

‘The main sports we see on the beaches down here in Newquay are bodyboarding and surfing. But last year we noticed a big uptake in kayaking and stand up paddleboarding on Towan Beach, so our goal for this year is to raise better awareness of safety considerations for these sports too.

‘From a personal point of view, my resolution this year is to organise my time better so that I can get out of the office more and into the water. For the team of awesome lifeguards I look after, I want to get them all together more frequently for socials and team bonding events. They’re always a great bunch of people and I want us all to celebrate the lifesaving work they do.’

We're currently recruiting lifeguards and face-to-face team members for the 2018 season. Find out more and get your application in here.

Find your nearest lifeguarded beach here.

9. Andrew Clarke, Design Engineer Intern

Andrew’s Storm Force ruler still comes in handy!

Photo: RNLI/Andrew Clark

Andrew’s Storm Force ruler still comes in handy!

‘I studied Naval Architecture at Southampton University, specialising in high-performance craft. I graduated in 2016 and am just finishing a design engineer placement with the RNLI. I’m about to start a 6-month maternity cover contract – so will be a fully fledged naval architect.

‘I’ve loved the RNLI since I was quite young. My parents gave me a Storm Force subscription one Christmas and so, for many years, I collected the stickers and magazines. I have a wooden model lifeboat and I still use my old Storm Force ruler, which I keep on my desk – not as precise as some of our more technical rulers, but still good for drawing a straight line!

‘When I was studying at university, lifeboats were always held in high regard. They’re very well engineered and interesting to work on. Apart from the military, there’s not many boats that will go out in the conditions ours do – they have to withstand incredible amounts of force from the sea, while keeping our crews safe.

‘I’ve been working on a research project looking at the impact of whole body vibrations on our crew members. We’re trying to measure – and so reduce – the long term physiological impact of going to sea in the kinds of conditions they face.

‘This year I’m hoping to complete some trials we’re doing as part of research into the D class inshore lifeboats. This will involve rigging one with sensors and doing a controlled drop to study how it reacts. There’s a principle called hydro elasticity – basically, unlike other vessels, the D class doesn’t have a rigid hull so it’s hard to predict how the impact and shape underwater changes. We’re trying to isolate different types of impact so we can understand how to improve it.

‘As for when my 6-month contract is up, I’m thinking about going back to university to study a Masters, but who knows?’

10. Harry Mascall, Fundraiser and Lifeboat Fan

Future Crew Harry Mascall on Workington Lifeboat Station’s Mersey class lifeboat.

Photo: Jane Mascall

Future Crew Harry Mascall on Workington Lifeboat Station’s Mersey class lifeboat

‘My name is Harry, I’m 10 years old and I LOVE lifeboats. I’m on a mission to visit all 238 boathouses, to raise money for the RNLI. It could take a very, very long time! I started on my 7th birthday when I was on holiday in Cornwall.

‘This year, I want to keep raising more money for the RNLI and get up to 200 lifeboat stations. I’m really excited to go to some stations in Ireland. I’ve never been there before. I’ve also got exams this month, so passing those is a big goal for me too! When I am old enough I want to be a volunteer crew member for the RNLI.

‘You can follow my visits on Twitter. If you’d like to help me raise money, you can donate here.'

We’d love to hear what your goals for 2018 are too, so please share them with us. Haven’t settled on a new year’s resolution yet? Take a look at the many different ways you can use your time and talent to help save lives – and find your place in our family – on our volunteering pages.