Thousands of Welsh youngsters safer at the seaside thanks to RNLI lifeguards
Thousands of school children in Wales will be safer on the country’s beautiful beaches in the future thanks to RNLI lifeguard-led education sessions.
Almost 9,000 youngsters from across south and west Wales took part in the charity’s popular Hit the Surf and Meet the Lifeguards schemes in 2016, learning beach safety information and open water survival training from the experts.
The Hit the Surf programme, where primary school children don wetsuits and spend half a day on the beach with RNLI lifeguards learning about beach safety and picking up basic surf skills, saw 2,740 children take part at beaches from New Quay in Ceredigion to Whitmore Bay on Barry Island. More than 160 more 14 and 15-year-olds gained a Junior Surf Life Saving award by taking part in the Youth Education Programme run jointly between the RNLI and the Surf Life Saving Association.
Another 5,328 children took part in Meet the Lifeguards sessions, where fully trained RNLI lifeguards visit schools to talk with classes about the best ways to have fun safely on Welsh beaches.
Gareth King, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor and Community Engagement Supervisor, said: ‘This summer was a really busy one for our lifeguard teams in Wales as we introduced new services on seven beaches in Porthcawl, Gower and Denbighshire. So to see this many children and young people learning how to stay safe at the beach in 2016 is a real credit to the lifeguards who delivered the sessions.’
And even more kids got to put their water safety learning into practice this year when Swim Safe hit Wales for the first time. The initiative, which is jointly run by Swim Wales, the RNLI and the ASA, laid on free programmes of outdoor swimming and water safety sessions for children aged between seven and 14 in two locations - Plas Menai National Outdoor Centre near Caernarfon and Whitmore Bay on Barry Island. More than 300 children took part at both venues.
Gareth added: ‘We challenge kids to take what they learn in the sessions home and share it with their families and friends and it was satisfying to see so many children coming up to our lifeguards on the beaches this summer talking about what they’d learned.’
RNLI lifeguards teach children about the meaning of beach flags, the dangers of rips and tides, what to do if they spot someone else in trouble and what to do if they get into trouble themselves.
Matt Horton, RNLI Senior Lifeguard Manager, said: ‘The focus of our lifeguard team is preventing incidents before they occur and an extension of that is educating young people on how to stay safe in and around the water.
‘Anyone who needs safety information should visit the RNLI’s website at http://rnli.org/safety/respect-the-water/Pages/Safety.aspx .’
Meet the Lifeguard sessions took place in Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Swansea. Hit the Surf sessions ran at Whitmore Bay on Barry Island, Aberavon Beach in Port Talbot, Tenby, Whitesands Beach in St Davids, Newport Sands, Poppit Sands and New Quay.
Notes to editors:
The attached picture shows school children enjoying a HIt the Surf Session at New Quay Beach in Ceredigion. Credit RNLI.
For more information please contact Chris Cousens, RNLI Press Officer, Wales and West, on 07748 265496 or 01745 585162 or by email on Chris_Cousens@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, in a normal year, 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.