Isle of Wight RNLI receives welcome funding boost
Fund-raising branches and guilds of the RNLI on the Isle of Wight made a ‘staggering’ net contribution to the charity of £292,777 during 2017, it was reported at the annual meeting of the Island’s Lifeboat Board on Saturday.
Hon Treasurer Tim Woodcock said this was 26.5 percent more than the previous year. “Thank you all for helping to generate this fantastic result,” he told a crowded meeting at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Cowes headquarters.
Major General Sir Martin White, the Lord Lieutenant, said the coming year would be his last as the board President, a post he had held since 2006. “I have been able to see for myself the professionalism and dedication of our crews on the Island, supported by an army of committed and enthusiastic volunteers.”
After also paying tribute to all those connected with the Island’s RNLI, the Poole-based Business Support and Services Director, Angela Rook, spoke of the 857 glass plates of early lifeboats, given by Cowes photographers Beken. Some had now been turned into framed prints, examples of which were on display at the meeting, after a period at the Shipwreck Museum, Arreton. Funding for work on the glass plates came from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Christopher Andreae and the Scorpion Trust.
The BBC series, ‘Saving Lives at Sea’, featuring lifeboat rescues, had attracted around two million viewers a week. “This has engaged new audiences in volunteering and supporting us.” Millions of people, too, had viewed the ‘Float to Live’ campaign on Facebook, which had so far saved `11 lives.
Angela Rook also revealed that the RNLI, together with the Marine and Coastguard Agency, were exploring the possibility of using drones for lifesaving. But no decisions had yet been made.
So far during 2018 3,810 people had been rescued or assisted around the UK and Ireland, with over 3,000 launches.
Board Chairman, Robin Ebsworth, said the board continued to act as a link between the 12 Island stations, guilds and branches, plus the ILC. An innovation this year was the recruitment of volunteers to assist with visitor tours of the Inshore Lifeboat Centre, East Cowes (where a visitor centre had just opened).
A booklet produced for the meeting gave comprehensive reports, including those on Yarmouth, Cowes and Bembridge stations, the guilds and branches, and the ILC.
Also included was a report from Partnership Manager Peter Baxter about the pioneering Sandown-based Swim Safe scheme, encouraging safe outdoor swimming for children aged 7-14 and jointly run by the RNLI and Swim England. The scheme had 1,600 passes through a six-week period in July and August, representing an 80 percent take-up of the available places.
“Feedback from participants had been overwhelmingly positive, and fundraising for the scheme has exceeded early expectations.”
The current officers were re-elected, including the Hon Secretary, Lesley Myland, who received thanks for her work from both Major General Sir Martin and Robin Ebsworth.
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.