They rowed, cycled, walked and swam near Cowes yesterday – virtually all in the warmth of a leisure centre and all in aid of the charity that saves lives at sea.
To mark the RNLI’s nationwide SOS Day, volunteers of all ages eagerly responded to the challenge to help accumulate miles, to the equivalent of 60 mile circumnavigations of the Isle of Wight. They did this with cycle, rowing and walking machines, in a swimming pool and with an outdoor nature walk.
The location for the event – the second year it was held – was Gurnard Pines Holiday Village, and sponsorship money raised was for the proposed new Cowes lifeboat station at Customs House.
Among the early visitors was Major General Martin White, the Isle of Wight’s Lord Lieutenant and President of the RNLI’s Isle of Wight Board. Not content with just viewing the energy-sapping proceedings, Major General White shed some of his outer garments and put in a good 15 minute stint on a cycle machine.
“I would also have done a bit of swimming if I had brought my swimming trunks,” he said.
The event was organised by East Cowes RNLI Branch, with strong support from members of Cowes lifeboat and the local Lifeboat Guild. The Inshore Lifeboat Centre, East Cowes, helped add to the occasion by parking a D Class RIB outside the window.
By the end of the day, East Cowes’ hon. treasurer Jenny Clune reckoned participants had ’rounded the Isle of Wight’ just over eight times. “I would like to express my appreciation to Gurnard Pines for again allowing their excellent facilities to be used for our fund-raising,” she said.
East Cowes chairman Colin Wilkinson said, “There was a very good turnout, especially in the morning. Everybody seemed to really enjoy themselves. Just over £1,000 was raised, which is reasonable considering the current financial situation. Also important, events like this raise the profile of our charity and underline the need to raise cash for the new station.”
Cowes and East Cowes schools were invited to take part in a painting competition with a Cowes lifeboat theme. The winning pupil, whose work will be framed and hung up in the new lifeboat station and receives an RNLI teddy bear, will be announced later.