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Hythe Merry Mermaids raise over £1000 for Littlestone RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

Littlestone RNLI today (9 Nov) received a visit from a contingent of Merry Mermaids - an all year-round group of open water swimmers who swim from Hythe. The members have raised more than £1,000 in donations from a range of fundraising initiatives for the RNLI.

RNLI/John Kenny

The Merry Mermaids present a cheque to RNLI Littlestone volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager Matt Crittenden for £1050

The Mermaids were moved to action by their regular visits to the sea and their appreciation of the efforts that the RNLI volunteers at Littlestone make for people who get into difficulty in the water.

The Merry Mermaids swim every day, whatever-the-weather, throughout the year on Hythe Beach- even when the water temperature drops as low as 6C. There are usually up to a dozen swimmers daily, with the group only missing their swim when the weather is particularly stormy or there is a water pollution concern.

The swimmers have a policy of not leaving the beach until their whole group has safely returned from the sea. Anne Beales of the Merry Mermaids said ‘We have been delighted by the public’s response to this fundraising. Not only has the local community been right behind us but we have also had local businesses contribute. For example, Remedies Restaurant in Hythe kindly allowed us to take over the restaurant to put on a fundraising supper. ’

Matt Crittenden, volunteer RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager for Littlestone, welcomed the Merry Mermaids at the lifeboat station on Thursday morning to thank them for their fantastic fundraising support. He also spent an hour showing the group around the lifeboat station, with a talk about the Atlantic 85 charity lifeboat Jean McIvor and a tour of the crew room with an explanation of the way a shout is responded to.

The Littlestone RNLI lifeboat was made possible by an extremely generous legacy from Mrs Jean Campbell McIvor from Middlesex who passed away in October 2017 and was a WRAF radar operator during WW2; Jean was also the River Thames Punting Champion from 1947-50.

Matt Crittenden said, ‘The funds raised by the Merry Mermaids are critical for the RNLI. They make it possible for us to be there when we are needed, to save lives at sea and we thank them. We discussed with the Mermaids the possibility of using their donation to help install a defibrillator outside Littlestone RNLI station and that is our plan.’ Jane Jameson of the Merry Mermaids said ‘We have given this donation with all our hearts- hopefully to help save some hearts.’

Jane and her team plan to share their inspired story with other open water swimming groups around the local coast and further their support for the work of the RNLI.

Media Contacts:

For any further information, please contact John Kenny, Littlestone Lifeboat Press Officer, on 07747 033443, or email [email protected]

Notes to editors

• The RNLI relies on public donations to provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the coast of the UK and Ireland, and on the Thames.

• #SavingLivesAtSea

• RNLI top safety tips for Open Water Swimming:

- Never swim alone. The safest way to wild swim is at an Open Water swimming site, with a club or between the red and yellow flags on a lifeguarded beach. If you can’t get to a lifeguarded beach, learn more about your chosen location and check hazard signage by finding an organised swim group in your local community.

- Acclimatise to cold water slowly and enter gradually to reduce the risk of cold water shock.

- Check weather and tide times before you go, avoid swimming in dangerous conditions.

- Take a means for calling for help in a waterproof phone pouch and have this on you at all times.

- If you see someone in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.
- Wear a brightly coloured hat plus a tow float for increased visibility.

- Always swim parallel to the shore and not straight out. Cold water, waves and currents can tire you out quickly and make it harder to return to shore.

- Never swim under the influence of alcohol.

RNLI/John Kenny

Lifeboat Operations Manager Matt Crittenden explains the Atlantic 85 lifeboat to the Merry Mermaids

RNLI/John Kenny

Matt explains the process for responding to a shout and the protective equipment needed by the crew The Merry Mermaids

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.