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RNLI and Girlguiding South West England join forces on water safety education

Lifeboats News Release

On International Day of the Girl, The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Girlguiding South West England have announced a new partnership that aims to teach and empower young girls about how to stay safe in, on and around water.

Three Girlguides from different age groups sat with a leader smiling.

Girlguiding South West England

This new engaging water safety education resource called ‘Mayday, Mayday’, focuses on four key safety messages and has been developed so that all age sections of Girlguiding can use it (Rainbows 4-7, Brownies 7-10, Guides 10-14 and Rangers 14-18).

Craig Maltby, RNLI Water Safety Education Manager said: ‘We know that educating young people about water safety is fundamental to saving lives and is a core part of the RNLI’s prevention work. The more young people we can reach with our water safety messages, the more lives we can save now and in the future.

‘So we’re delighted to be collaborating with Girlguiding South West England, one of the regions of Girlguiding, the UK’s largest youth organisation dedicated to girls aged 4-18.’

Laura Cottey, Chief Commissioner for Girlguiding South West England said: ‘We are very excited to be launching a new partnership between Girlguiding South West England and the RNLI.

‘With hundreds of miles of coastline around our beautiful region and our young members often taking part in adventurous activities on the water, we are delighted that they will be able to benefit by taking part in lots of activities to deepen their understanding of water safety.

‘We can’t wait for our young members to learn more about the fantastic work of the RNLI, hear inspiring stories and find out more about the varying roles that RNLI volunteers get up to.’

Craig added: ‘The idea behind this brilliant partnership came from Deborah Meadows, one of our Water Safety Education Volunteers based at Bembridge Lifeboat Station.

‘Deborah also has many voluntary roles within Girlguiding South West England including Trainer Qualification Co-ordinator for the region, and a Rainbow and Brownie Leader on the Isle of Wight’.

Deborah is one of the thousands of volunteers that make up both Girlguiding and the RNLI. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Next year is also an extraordinary year for the RNLI as the lifesaving charity celebrates its 200th anniversary.

Deborah said: ‘As a volunteer with my local Rainbow and Brownie unit and as part of the RNLI Water Safety Team, I know firsthand the impact this kind of partnership can have.

‘At its core this collaboration is about sharing key messages that will ultimately save lives – but it’s also a fantastic way to introduce young girls to the potential opportunities an organisation like the RNLI has to offer.

‘As a world-leading search and rescue organisation/charity there is a huge variety of volunteer and career opportunities. These range from operational roles like flying hovercrafts and lifeguarding beaches, to data analysis, fundraising and building the lifeboats of the future.

‘I really hope Girlguiding units across south west England take the time to engage with this wonderful resource and deliver it in their communities – you will absolutely be making a lifesaving difference and inspiring the next generation.’

This collaboration isn’t the first time Girlguiding and the RNLI have come together to save lives. Back in 1940 during World War II, the Girl Guides raised £5000 for a self-righting motor-class lifeboat as one of the targets of the Guide Gift Week appeal.

The lifeboat was initially unnamed as it was called into service straight from the builder's yard for the Dunkirk evacuation on 1 June 1940.

From May 1941, after Dunkirk, the lifeboat was stationed at Cadgwith Lifeboat Station in Cornwall. In 1947 it was officially named Guide of Dunkirk in honour of its lifesaving service.

In 1963 the Guide of Dunkirk was retired and sold into private ownership. The boat was renamed Girl Guide by its owner and can still be seen today where it's kept in Mevagissey, Cornwall, in its original condition.

The ‘Mayday, Mayday’ water safety resource has been written and developed by Deborah Meadows and Janet Parker, Chair of Guiding Delivery - Girlguiding South West England, in collaboration with the specialist regional RNLI Water Safety Teams.

It will be available to access from Sunday 5 November 2023 on the Girlguiding South West England website.

Notes to Editor:

  • The official launch is taking place at the RNLI College in Poole on Sunday 5 November between 3-5pm. If you are interested in attending the site for media interviews please contact Claire on the details below.
  • To find out more about the RNLI’s bicentenary, visit
  • To find out more about Girlguiding South West England, visit:

RNLI media contacts

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Claire Fitzpatrick-Smith, RNLI Regional Media Officer, on [email protected] or 07977 728 315.

Alternatively you can contact the RNLI Press Office on [email protected] or 01202 336789.

RNLI Education volunteer Deborah Meadows giving preventionto children from Bembridge Primary School.

RNLI/Harrison Bates

RNLI Education volunteer Deborah Meadows giving preventionto children from Bembridge Primary School.
Logo for the new water safety resource 'Mayday, Mayday'


Logo for the new water safety resource 'Mayday, Mayday'
Black and white photo of the Guide of Dunkirk lifeboat

Grahame Farr

Guide of Dunkirk lifeboat
Naming ceremony of Cadgwith lifeboat Guide of Dunkirk

S. F. Watson

Naming ceremony of Cadgwith lifeboat Guide of Dunkirk

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.