Welsh crews take delivery of new RNLI lifejackets
Volunteer lifeboat crews around the Welsh coast have started to receive their new lifejackets – thanks to the generosity of the charity’s supporters across the country. Just before Christmas, the RNLI launched a Lifejackets for Lifesavers campaign to raise more than £185,500 – the cost of providing new lifejackets for its volunteer crews at 31 lifeboat stations from Flint to Penarth.
Thanks to an excellent response from the public, the lifejackets have been purchased and are in the process of being rolled out. Barry Dock was the first lifeboat station in Wales to receive the new kit, followed by The Mumbles, St Davids, Barmouth, Porthdinllaen, Moelfre, New Quay and Rhyl.
RNLI crews at Tenby and Fishguard have received their lifejackets and Cardigan and Little and Broad Haven are to receive their new lifejackets and training this week. Deliveries at the remaining stations are expected throughout this month and May. RNLI trainers will now be hard at work training the crew in how to use the modern pieces of search and rescue equipment.
Since the appeal launch, the public and crew pulled out all the stops, which has seen funds flowing in from businesses and individuals. Many used the charities SOS Day in January to hold themed events such as a Saunter On Sands (sponsored walk at Barmouth) to Shave Our Scalps (sponsored headshave at New Quay).
At Flint RNLI, the lifejacket appeal swung into action with a generous donation from Flint Golf Club after being officially launched by the High Sherriff of Clwyd, Lloyd Fitzhugh. At Holyhead, trainee crew member David Hadley demonstrated his commitment to the RNLI ethos by leading his volunteer colleagues to the peak of Snowdon to ensure the station raised the necessary funds.
Deborah Ferns, RNLI Community Fundraising Manager, explains, the response has been phenomenal:
‘The public have really identified with the Lifejacket for Lifesavers campaign and we have been amazed by the response. Since the publicity began, people across the country were keen to get involved. It was heart-warming to see RNLI crews themselves getting involved and playing their part in helping to raise the target.
'Our fundraising branches also supported the appeal have also pulled out all the stops. We’ve hit our target and it’s a real achievement to witness the new lifejackets arriving.’
The RNLI introduced the lifejackets to advance and improve existing kit and equipment for its volunteer crew. The two brand new types of lifejacket were designed through joint collaboration between the RNLI and the manufacturer to meet the charity’s current search and rescue requirements. RNLI volunteers from Holyhead and Criccieth were involved in trials last year.
They will provide increased safety for all sizes and shapes of volunteers with a comfortable, secure fit. They are fitted with crotch straps, which prevent the lifejacket riding up over the wearer’s head when in the water, and an integrated harness, designed to pull the lifejacket away from the neck allowing greater freedom of movement while rescuing people.
There are also zipped pockets for casualty care kit, torches, gloves or knives and a spray hood designed to protect the wearer from sea spray. Ultimately the improved lifejackets should lead to increased efficiency and effectiveness in lifesaving.
Barmouth RNLI Coxswain Peter Davies said:
‘The new lifejackets are comfortable and easy to wear, we are fortunate that the RNLI considers the safety of its volunteer crew members to be so important and continues to advance and improve its safety equipment. This lifejacket is a lifesaver in its own right and will help our volunteers to save lives at sea in years to come.’
It was back in 1854 that an RNLI Inspector called Captain Ward invented a cork lifejacket that proved a lifesaver on numerous occasions. But since those days, the charity has always looked to advance and improve its safety equipment, from kapok lifejackets to Beaufort lifejackets and the present day design.
Notes to editors
Specific information/photographs will be available from volunteer Lifeboat Press Officers at individual lifeboat stations. Please contact Danielle Rush on the telephone numbers below for contact details.
Video footage of RNLI crews at Holyhead trialling the new lifejackets is available on request.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Danielle Rush, Divisional Media Relations Manager (Wales) on 01745 585162 or 07786 668829, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789