Over a thousand children across the Wirral have been learning lifesaving water safety skills ahead of the school summer holidays in a partnership between a local swimming school and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
During a week of sessions in July, Helen Diamond Swimming School taught 1,148 of its young pupils the RNLI’s key ‘float to live’ safety technique in the pools at Stanley School in Pensby, Birkenhead High School Academy and Calday Grange in West Kirby.
Hoylake RNLI lifeboat crew member and water safety advisor Dave Bates was invited to join the team at some of the sessions, where he spoke to both the children and their parents about the importance of floating if they get into difficulty in the water.
Dave was joined at one session by fellow volunteer Kev Latcham, where they passed on some of the RNLI’s other tips for staying safe at the beach such as stopping to think about the dangers, staying together, and only swimming where there are lifeguards while staying between their red and yellow flags.
With many families heading to the coast or the pool while on holiday in the UK and abroad, these vital skills will help keep them safe in and around the water this summer and beyond.
Following the swimming sessions, parents and supporters kindly donated £499.22 to the RNLI in support of the charity’s 24-hour search and rescue service and drowning prevention work. Helen Diamond also made a very generous personal donation of £1,000 and visited Hoylake RNLI lifeboat station to present the lifesaving funds to the grateful lifeboat crew.
Helen has been teaching swimming for nearly 30 years and it is very much a family business, as her two daughters are also qualified swimming teachers. Among the school’s 50 staff are a number of RNLI Lifeguards, who have a real passion for both swimming and water safety.
Helen said: ‘Thank you to the team at Hoylake RNLI for an amazing week supporting our swim school in raising awareness around water safety ahead of the summer. We know all too well the dangers. After some recent tragic losses of young people in the water, the message can’t be highlighted enough.’
‘Last year we followed the RNLI’s “float to live” messages in our classes and this year we went all out. It was wonderful to have the support of Dave who could spend time talking to the children and adults. Having Dave made a huge impact, as one child said, “he is a real lifeboat man!”’
‘It’s so important to understand why we learn to swim, how to be safe and to educate adults that sitting on a poolside for years watching swimming lessons can literally save a life. I always compare it to learning to read and write, it is a skill we need.’
Following the sessions, one parent added: ‘Our son has instantly picked up the float technique after last week’s lesson and was practising at our family swim this weekend.’
Dave Bates said: ‘When delivering water safety sessions, I often find myself telling people how to float, but Helen and her team went beyond that and showed them how. Teaching them in clothes or pyjamas also gave the children the opportunity to experience being in the water whilst clothed.’
‘These children are already learning to swim, but there is much more to being safe in and around water. The RNLI messages and these skills can save your life whether you are a non-swimmer or a county champion, especially if you have fallen into cold water.’
‘I'm so grateful to Helen and her team for giving us the opportunity to talk to her swimmers and their families about water safety. This was a very successful event and I look forward to working alongside her again in the future.’
Dave added: ‘We’re overwhelmed by the generosity of parents and in particular by Helen, as she put so much effort into organising these lifesaving sessions. Their kind donations will help the RNLI continue saving lives at sea and on the coast this summer.’
Notes to editors
When in cold water (anything below 15°C), the human body can go into cold water shock. If this happens, people can lose control of their breathing and movement. Cold water shock also causes the heart rate and blood pressure to quickly increase, which can lead to cardiac arrest.
The average sea temperature around the UK and Ireland is just 12°C. Inland waters like lakes, rivers, lochs and reservoirs can be colder - even in the summer.
If you get into difficulty in the water, float to live:
1. Fight the urge to thrash around
2. Lean back and extend your arms and legs
3. Gently move them around to help you float if you need to
4. Float until you can control your breathing
5. Only then, call for help or swim to safety
In an emergency at the coast, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
RNLI media contacts
For more information, please contact:
Dan Whiteley, Hoylake RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer on 07799 851 316 or email [email protected]
Claire Elshaw, RNLI Regional Media Officer on 07468 353 082 or email [email protected]
RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789
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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.
Learn more about the RNLI
For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.
Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.