Queen’s Birthday Honour for Scarborough RNLI water safety pioneer
Scarborough RNLI fundraiser and founder of the Andrew McGeown Legacy Fund, Donna Loveland, has received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, in recognition of her outstanding work in fundraising and water safety.
In February 2015 Andrew McGeown, aged 32, lost his life after entering the North Sea in Scarborough’s South Bay whilst attempting to save his dog, Arnold. Donna set up the Andrew McGeown Legacy Fund in his name, with the intention of funding the Swim Safe programme in her local area.
Swim Safe was created by Swim England and the RNLI in 2013 to help children aged 7–14 stay safe while enjoying swimming outdoors through practical sessions offering vital water safety skills, free of charge. From with a single scheme in Cornwall, Swim Safe has grown into a national programme, spanning 30 sites across the UK and helping thousands of children learn how to stay safe in the water.
Swim Safe was established in Scarborough in 2015. Since then, more than 4,500 children have taken part in sessions at Scarborough and Bridlington. Donna’s tireless dedication has seen her raise over £45,000 for the Andrew McGeown Legacy Fund and Swim Safe whilst also promoting water safety and the dangers of the coast through local awareness campaigns, marketing and school visits.
Upon hearing the news of the honour, Donna said: ‘It was a real shock, but also a nice surprise that I will be receiving the British Empire Medal. Fundraising in my brother’s memory has given my family a positive focus after Andrew’s death.
‘The Swim Safe programme has been very successful. It’s a pleasure to be able to deliver such a valuable programme, and hopefully we will save many lives through the educational sessions. Andrew will always be remembered and loved thanks to the great legacy created with RLNI and Swim England and everyone who has supported us.’
RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie said: ‘It is such a delight to see Donna recognised for her hard work and commitment, particularly as we near the end of such a challenging year. Her story truly represents the RNLI values through her dedication, support and courage, helping to keep thousands of children safe along the Yorkshire coast. On behalf of everyone at the RNLI, I send Donna my heartfelt congratulations and gratitude.’
Ashley Jones, Water Safety and Drowning Prevention Manager at Swim England, said: ‘Donna’s enthusiasm and selflessness are an inspiration to many. She has thoroughly earned this accolade for her commitment to saving lives on the Yorkshire coast, from raising tens of thousands of pounds for the Andrew McGeown Legacy Fund to delivering the Swim Safe programme in Scarborough and Bridlington. Donna continually goes above and beyond to enable thousands of youngsters to benefit from free Swim Safe sessions.’
‘I am proud and privileged to work alongside such a committed volunteer and everyone at Swim England is thrilled she has been recognised with this deserving honour.’
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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.