The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is sending out a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to hundreds of understanding employers of volunteer lifeboat crew members, after another busy summer season on the Isle of Wight.
The message comes as preliminary figures* released today (22 September) show a busy summer of lifeboat activity on the island – throughout June, July and August, lifeboats from Bembridge, Cowes and Yarmouth launched a total of 62 times.
The charity that saves lives at sea is sending out the summer salute to employers to thank them for being so accommodating towards staff who are also lifeboat crew members. The majority of lifeboat crew members are volunteers who regularly have to abandon what they’re doing at the bleep of a pager, which means leaving their desks or other place of work in a bid to save lives at sea.
Employers are on the whole very understanding, but there can be no period more difficult than the summer, when many businesses are short on staff due to summer holidays.
RNLI Operations Director, Michael Vlasto, said: ‘Many of our lifeboat volunteers are especially busy at this time with their day jobs as many of them work in the tourism industry, so we are especially grateful to them in summer – and to their employers who allow them to stop work at the “bleep of a pager” to help others, and given the current economic climate for businesses this is a great contribution to the charity.’
In the summer period, Bembridge RNLI lifeboat launched 25 times, compared to 19 launches in 2009. Cowes RNLI lifeboat launched 14 times, down from the 21 in 2009. And lifeboats from Yarmouth RNLI have launched 23 times, compared to 20 in 2009.
Overall in the RNLI’s east region – which incorporates Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, the south east and the east of England – the number of summer lifeboat launches fell by a small margin, from 1,276 in 2009, to 1,231 in 2010; a fall of just three per cent. This shows that the need for the charity’s provision of a ‘ring of safety’ around the UK and Republic of Ireland is still as strong as ever.
Mark Southwell, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Cowes RNLI lifeboat station, said: ‘The summer is always busy for the RNLI as more and more people opt to relax at the coast each summer in the UK and Ireland. The figures show that our volunteers are called on much more during this time and the fact they respond every time the pager goes off shows just how committed they are to saving lives at sea.
‘And whilst thanking them is important, I want to say how grateful I and my colleagues across the island are to all those who employ our volunteer crew members. By granting them leave of absence to launch the lifeboats they show a profound understanding of our status as a charity, and the livesaving service that the RNLI provides.’
Mark added: “Interestingly, the bulk of the lifeboat launches for Cowes RNLI over the summer have been during the working week – we’ve had no midnight or 3am callouts.’
The figures released today show that across the entire RNLI, lifeboats launched an average 42 times every day in June, July and August – an increase of 68% on the annual daily average.**
RNLI lifeboats were requested to launch by HM Coastguard 3,926 times during June, July and August while the charity’s lifeguards responded to 12,911 incidents (rescues, first aid, lost and found children, etc) on 152 of the UK’s busiest beaches – a 16% increase on the same period last year. To find out more about the RNLI charity, or how you can support us or make a donation, log on to www.rnli.org.uk