From small seedlings, Lifeboats Save Lives.
Bill and Peach Shaw have found a new innovative way of raising money for Appledore RNLI during lockdown – an ‘Echium Adoption Scheme’!
‘Ever since we saw these strange prehistoric plants back in the 1990’s, growing in random locations in the South West, we have wanted them in our garden. We bought a young echium from a tropical garden centre near Penzance, which we grew on in a pot, but sadly had a disaster when we tried to straighten the stem by loosely tying it to a cane in the pot….it died.
‘Our next attempt was from seed, the seed packet we think was through some offer in the Western Morning News, and we planted these, that was the beginning. We watched these curious plants grow, year on year and in year three the first flower spikes began to emerge, quite stunning and a huge bee magnet.
‘Since then, nearly every year (apart from the years when it snowed) we have had a magnificent display of these ECHIUM PININANA, that are originally, I believe, from the Canary Islands. It seems to be that when the little purple flower heads fall off; the seeds contained germinate rather readily.
‘This year perhaps the combination of a mild winter and then endless sunshine for the start of lockdown, coupled with the fact we spent many more hours in the garden, brought to our attention just how many seedlings were sprouting, and I mused whether instead of sending them to the compost pile, any other people would like to “Adopt an Echium”.
‘I posted photos and details on local Facebook pages and left these potted up seedlings on our doorstep, saying FREE but donations are most welcome for Appledore RNLI- a charity very close to me as my mother was the president of the guild from 1973-2004.
‘We’ve been amazed by the response. At the last adoption session we caused a small traffic jam in Cross Street, Northam, as people arrived to pick up their seedlings. I must be honest, for me now, potting them up has become something of an obsession and there are more growing, so more will be on the doorstep soon! Around 400 must have gone, with cash donations reaching £735.45!!
‘I must thank everyone who has been so generous with their donations and hopefully they will also enjoy the blooms in 2022 (and then probably curse me for all the seedlings in 2023!) but just think how much extra food the bees will have that we can enjoy the beautiful flower spike then, and our local lifeboat station benefit from the cash’, explains Peach and Bill Shaw from Cross St, Northam, near Appledore, North Devon.
To quote Tony Merrill, Appledore RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager: ‘We are extremely grateful to Bill and Peach for their hard work. Every donation made to Appledore RNLI, however big or small, goes towards the costs of keeping the Appledore RNLI operational. Fundraising has been severely reduced during the pandemic for obvious reasons. We are a charity, our crews are volunteers, but the lifeboats need to be fuelled, the boats, lifeboat stations and equipment maintained, and crew trained. We receive no money from the Government, so it is only by fundraising, donations and legacies, that we can continue to save lives at sea. Innovative ideas like this just prove people can raise money for the RNLI anywhere in the country, not just near the coast.’
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.