£1M fund helps local volunteers learn lifesaving skills

Lifeboats News Release

Two new volunteer crew members from Portsmouth RNLI lifeboat station have had a vital part of their crew training funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

Barney Gordon 21 and Sam Hepplewhite 29, from Southsea, recently travelled to RNLI College in Poole, Dorset, to complete the charity’s Trainee Crew Course.

A key part of the course is the sea survival element, which enables new volunteer crew to be trained in a variety of crucial subjects including how to ‘abandon ship’ with a 4m jump into water; team survival swimming and coping in a liferaft in simulated darkness; how to deal with fires aboard lifeboats; how to right a capsized inshore lifeboat; and the importance of lifejackets.

Training took place in the Sea Survival Centre at the charity’s college, which includes a 25m wave-generating survival tank, allowing trainees to experience first-hand some of the scenarios they may encounter at sea should they ever need to abandon their lifeboat.

The training was funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LR Foundation), a UK registered charity that connects science, safety and society by supporting quality research and promoting skills and education. The Foundation is funding the Sea Survival element of RNLI’s Trainee Crew Courses for a further 5 year period from January 2016 to December 2020. This additional funding of £1.06M will bring their total support for RNLI crew training to just over £2.46M*.

Talking about the training, Barney, who volunteers as lifeboat crew, said: ‘The course was a once in a lifetime experience, I learnt some amazing new skills with a lot of new knowledge, as well as earning some professionally recognised qualifications too.’

Barney was inspired to sign up as a volunteer crew member by the work of his older brother, who joined St Catherine’s RNLI Lifeboat station in Jersey after being rescued from a capsized fishing vessel in 2013. Thankful for saving his brother’s life, Barney then joined the Portsmouth crew while studying at university.

Barney has since put his training to use towing a broken down luxury yacht into Portsmouth harbour, with little wind the lifeboat diverted from a training exercise to assist and barney was put on board the yacht to set up the tow and liaise with its crew.

RNLI spokesperson Aaron Gent said: ‘The support given by LR Foundation is hugely important to the RNLI. We are extremely grateful that the Foundation has chosen to continue to fund sea survival training, which teaches vital core skills to our volunteer crew.

‘This training is vital to help keep volunteers as safe as possible while on rescue missions. It equips volunteers with essential sea survival skills; providing them with the courage, poise and self-confidence to save lives even in the most perilous seas.’

This donation is just the latest in LR Foundation’s relationship with the RNLI, which was recognised in 2010 when it received the Group Supporter Award from HRH Prince Michael of Kent in recognition of its valuable support of the charity.

Notes to Editors
*Lloyd’s Register Foundation donated £1M to the RNLI over 5 years from 2010–2015; and £400K over 2 years from 2008–2009, taking over the obligations of the Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust in 2013.

About Lloyd's Register Foundation
Lloyd’s Register Foundation is a charitable foundation which aims, through grant making, to connect science, safety and society by supporting research of the highest quality and promoting skills and education.

BarneyCrew.jpg – Barney in his crew ket ready to go afloat
Groupshot.jpg – The group that Barney was with for the week (Front row left is sam middle is Barney)
SamFireFighting.jpg – Sam using a fire extinguisher one of the many skills put into practice
Lifeboat College.jpg – The view from Barneys room of the lifeboat pontoons

For more information please telephone Aaron Gent on 07947537108 or aaron_gent@rnli.org.uk.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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