Last Christmas, we decided to forgo sending out the usual company Christmas cards, and to donate the money we would have spent to the RNLI instead. So, when the guys at Exmouth’s Lifeboat Station invited a group of us from the Blue Chip team to go along and spend an afternoon with them, I jumped at the chance.
While the sun shone down on Exmouth, off we went to learn more about the RNLI and just how much they do for us. We were greeted by Kevin, the Lifeboat Operations Manager and Derek the Lifeboat Visits Officer, who gave us a tour of the station.
As we climbed the stairs, the faces of lifeboat crew members who have protected lives at sea over the generations peered down at us, and the bright yellow kits that ran the length of the wall in the changing area brought home the fact that ordinary people still put the yellows on and head out into the waters at the first sign of trouble.
When you think that 95% of all RNLI staff are volunteers, it’s even more incredible that they put themselves in unthinkable situations to save lives at sea, and the fact that it takes up to two years to be fully trained to respond to a call shows just how much commitment it takes to be an RNLI volunteer.
We made our way into one of Exmouth’s two lifeboats, and as I sat up front and looked out of the window and to the estuary beyond the station doors, I tried to imagine how it must feel as the boat plunders its way towards the water and off to help those in crisis.
Derek knows everything there is to know about safety on the UK’s coast, and one of the facts that stuck in my head is that most people who run into problems at sea don’t even intend to enter the water. It’s often those who chase dogs, who lie back on an inflatable and get swept out by the tide…and just those who are less prepared to take on the sea who are most at risk. Age-wise, the most vulnerable people are those aged under 5 or over 50, and surprisingly, many people who run into trouble on the water phone friends instead of the RNLI because they feel embarrassed.
To quote Derek himself, “if you think you’ve got trouble, then you’ve got trouble, and it’s not going to get any better”. So always dial 999 and ask for the RNLI the minute you start to feel concerned. The RNLI’s saved 140,000 lives at sea since it was formed in 1824, and when you consider that it takes £180 million per year to keep the charity going, it starts to bring home just how important raising money for your local station is.
We’re thrilled to have been able to donate £1000 to the RNLI yesterday, and we’re already thinking of ways we can get together as a team and raise more funds in the future. We have plenty of fundraising ideas in the pipeline and we're committed to finding ways of raising awareness amongst our guests, with the help of the RNLI.
If you fancy seeing the crew in action, check the website Exmouth Lifeboat for details of forthcoming exercises on Exmouth beach.