New safety partnership launched as Welsh lifeboats kept busy in 2016

Lifeboats News Release

More than 100,000 schoolchildren in the Birmingham area will be safer at the seaside thanks to a new initiative launched in response to a tragic double drowning on the Welsh coast last summer.

The Mumbles RNLI was the Welsh station with the highest number of lifeboat launches in 2016

Stephen Duncombe

The Mumbles RNLI was the Welsh station with the highest number of lifeboat launches in 2016

The RNLI are pleased to announce that they have formed a new working partnership with Birmingham City Council as the City aims to make water safety education a priority across Birmingham schools in 2017.

Two teenage boys visiting Barmouth from Birmingham in August 2016 tragically lost their lives after getting into difficulty in the water.

The teenagers were visiting Barmouth as part of a community trip on Sunday 7 August. Barmouth and Aberdyfi RNLI lifeboat crews joined the multi-agency search shortly after lunchtime and continued the search throughout the day and the following morning. Tragically the bodies of both boys were found days later at different locations along the coast.

As a result of this tragic incident a new educational partnership has been formed with the aim that every school pupil within the Birmingham area will received one water safety session before this year’s school Summer holidays. 570 school staff across Birmingham have already been trained in key water safety messages. Thanks to specialist safety sessions provided by members of the water safety group* over 100,000 kids and young people across the Birmingham area will have access to key safety skills to help keep themselves stay safe when visiting the coast this summer.

Jon Needham, schools’ safeguarding advisor at Birmingham City Council, said:

‘One of the key priorities for the city is the safeguarding of its citizens. It is a startling fact that drowning in the UK causes more accidental fatalities annually than fire deaths in the home or cycling deaths on the road. So we fully endorse the SAFE Birmingham initiative and the fact that so many agencies are involved is a testament to the city’s commitment to improve the lives of children and their families.’

The RNLI are launching this new working partnership as the charity release their annual statistics, which saw the number of lifeboat launches across the Welsh coast rise in 2016.

Welsh RNLI volunteer crews saw an increase of 11% on lifeboats launches across the coast last year, rescuing nearly 13% more people compared to 2015. RNLI lifeboats across Wales launched 1,175 times, rescuing 1,162 people and saved 73 lives.

The statistics also show a busy year for the RNLI’s lifeguard service on the beaches of Wales. In 2016 lifeguards responded to 1,271 incidents and rescued or assisted 1,436 people, up on the 2015 figures.

Mumbles RNLI volunteers were the busiest lifeboat station last year as the crews launched the lifeboats 83 times and rescued 95 people. The number of lives saved by Criccieth RNLI rocketed in 2016 as they saved 19 lives in 2016 compared to three lives the previous year – the majority of those were coastal walkers cut off by the tide.

Matt Crofts, RNLI Lifesaving Manager said: ‘Prevention is key for the RNLI – helping people by providing communities with the skills and knowledge to help keep themselves safe when they visit the coast. As a result of the new partnership with Birmingham City Council, key water safety experts can share these vital safety messages.

‘Our annual Respect the Water drowning prevention campaign will be launching again soon and we urge people to give water the healthy respect it deserves. While we will always answer the call for help, myself and everyone within the RNLI would like to see people thinking more about their safety whilst at the coast.’

‘We’re calling on anyone visiting the coast to make safety a priority; whether that means wearing a lifejacket, checking their vessel before they go afloat, knowing they should call 999 and ask for the Coastguard in the event of an emergency, checking the tide times before they set out, or staying away from cliff edges and unstable coastal paths.’

Notes to editors

  • *Organisations involved in the water safety group are: Birmingham City Council, RNLI, RLSS, ASA and the Canal and River Trust.
  • Photos of the safety partnership launch will be available by contacting Eleri Roberts from Wednesday afternoon.
  • A Wales and West 2017 RNLI compilation rescue video is available to download from https://rnli.org/news-and-media/2017/march/27/wales-rnli-rescues-2016. Credit: RNLI
  • Also attached is a picture of The Mumbles RNLI lifeboat. Credit Stephen Duncombe

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Eleri Roberts, RNLI Public Relations Manager on 01745 585162 / 07771 941390 or email Eleri_Roberts@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336 789.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland