by Paul Stallard
What sort of year has it been for the RNLI? Based on provisional incident reports from RNLI lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, there was a 64% increase in the number of recreational water users aided by the RNLI. Additionally, many lifeguards reported seeing an increase in the number of visitors to beaches around the coast.
This summer, 177 water users were aided whilst kayaking or canoeing, an increase of 84 people in comparison to 2019. The number of people who needed help from RNLI lifeboat crews after getting into difficulties on inflatables more than doubled. Paddleboarding saw a 40% rise in lifeboat launches and the number of casualties assisted almost tripled. RNLI Lifeboat crew callouts to swimmers were up by 14%. Additionally, lifeboat launches to people who got into trouble whilst walking or running at the coast over the summer increased by 46%, with 175 more people aided in comparison to last year.
Gareth Morrison, RNLI’s Head of Water Safety, said: ‘Our volunteer crews have been on call throughout the pandemic. This year, they faced a summer like no other. When lockdown restrictions eased, we saw people flock to the beaches to enjoy our coastlines instead of holidaying abroad. But that resulted in a huge number of people getting into difficulty around our coasts, with our lifesavers facing an incredibly busy summer. If you find yourself in trouble at the coast this winter, call 999 and ask for the coastguard.’
The RNLI has spent £1.2M this year on PPE to keep its lifesavers and the public safe during the coronavirus crisis, including almost 700,000 face masks, 2.4 million gloves and 4,700 litres of hand sanitiser. Additionally, RNLI shops were closed, and fundraising events were cancelled, costing the RNLI millions in lost income.
As a charity, the RNLI relies on the support of the public to continue saving lives – and that support is needed now more than ever. Evelyn Hunt, a 10-year-old Cub Scout with 1st Cuddington (Warspite) Sea Scouts in Teddington successfully raised money for Teddington RNLI. As part of Evelyn’s Chief Scouts Silver Award, she decided to raise funds for Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station by rowing from Hampton Court to Teddington Lock, and raised £144.88! We wanted to thank Evelyn and the Sea Scouts again for her fundraising efforts! Footage here:
When people do amazing things to help others it lifts all our spirits. With that in mind the RNLI has launched its Christmas Appeal. If you would like to support the Christmas Appeal for Teddington RNLI and the RNLI nationally, visit: RNLI.org/Xmas. RNLI Christmas cards will also be available to buy from The Boat Shop, Ferry Road, Teddington from 3rd December.
Written by Paul Stallard, Lifeboat Press Officer & Crew, Teddington RNLI.
(Contributions from Charlotte Cranny-Evans RNLI Press Officer, Gianna Saccomani, Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer & Crew, Teddington RNLI and Richard Hunt (Evelyn’s Dad and Group Scout Leader of 1ST Cuddington (Warspite) Sea Scouts in Teddington).