The RNLI, a truly heroic charity manned by volunteers, steeped in British seafaring traditions of selfless duty to protect those in peril on the sea and coastlines of Britain. It represents a great bastion of British courage.
There are many aspects of Britishness for which we should feel both grateful and immensely proud. Bangers and mash, the NHS and living life on a meteorological knife edge, to name but a few.
However, the work done by the volunteers of the RNLI is truly incredible and indescribably courageous. Those that choose to spend time out at sea whether it be sailing, surfing or swimming, know the dangers that lurk in even the most harmless looking waters. Rogue waves, strong undercurrents or unusual forces of nature can collude to turn what looked set to be a calm day at sea into a terrifying fight for survival.
Educating children about water safety is fundamental to saving lives at sea and this is an important aspect of the work that the RNLI do.
"The more young people we can reach with our water safety messages, the more lives we can save now and in the future."
The RNLI are inspiring young minds to have a greater understanding and respect for water safety through a variety of channels; inspiring educational videos to watch from the comfort of your own home, heritage workshops which bring the past to life in the classroom and interactive presentations at school. Until I started to research the RNLI I had no idea of the wonderfully creative ways they approach involving and engaging young people into the important work that they do.
Their outreach programme encourages children to visit their local RNLI location to meet the volunteers, take a look at their lifesaving crafts and see what it's like to be a volunteer for the RNLI. To have a glimpse of a day in the life of an RNLI volunteer and hear their incredible rescue stories will amaze the minds of Tiny Explorers and make the connection that we can all have with our oceans one of mutual respect.
We are lucky enough to have caught up with Andy Cameron who owns Wavehunters, a surf and marine adventures company on the North Cornwall coast and is an RNLI volunteer.
We asked him to tell us a bit about what inspired him to join the RNLI and what it means to him to be a part of this organisation, as well as giving us a day in the life of an RNLI volunteer. His rescue story is mind blowing.
"I’ve spent my life growing up in the surf and on the sea so it was a natural progression for me to become a life boatman. The RNLI is more than an organisation, it’s often the centre of a community. Everyone from all walks of life is normally involved; from shore crew, support staff, training staff, fund raisers, lifeguards and the old boy’s just checking everything is working to a plan.
Over the past 20 years i have been on a lot of shouts and seen many dramatic scenes, sadly not every shout ends happily, but we will always set to sea to save the lives of people we don’t know.
Probably the weirdest shout I ever went on was Boscastle flood. We set to sea in beautiful sunshine to a flood! As we headed up the coast, we passed through two intense storms where we had to put our visors down so we could breath, as the rain fall was so intense. Once we arrived at Boscastle we dealt with 200 cars floating out to sea at 10 knots and we had to break into each car and to make sure no one was trapped. Sadly, we saw a few dogs drown. But the priority was to get the people out. Then a third storm came, with it came the lighting which meant the sea caught on fire, which was intense!
During our 6 hour service we prevented any loss of life, worked with 7 helicopters above us (the biggest ever in peace time) and sadly saw a whole village destroyed by the intense flood."
This is "just another day in the RNLI." Absolute maximum respect.
Check out Wavehunters for your next incredible family adventure.