Last Sunday, 25th July, was World Drowning Prevention Day, created by the UN to officially recognise that drowning is an important international issue.
Drowning has taken 2.5M lives around the world in the last decade. Many of these tragedies involved children, and most were preventable. That’s why the RNLI is working with other countries and organisations to highlight and tackle the problem.
The RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews provide a 24-hour rescue service in the UK and Ireland, and its seasonal lifeguards look after people on busy beaches. Their Flood Rescue Team helps those affected by flooding.
We in Bude know how vitally important and valued the RNLI is.
Recently, due to the likes of people who should know better, like Nigel Farage, who has called it “a migrant taxi service”, the RNLI has had a bad press for rescuing migrants/refugees in the Channel. Such statements go against everything the RNLI stands for.
Volunteers have defended their actions in the Channel waters, though they should not have to. See the video.
This morning, I listened to a reasoned discussion of this very issue on Radio 4, featuring Michael Boyce, Baron Boyce, Admiral of the Fleet. He condemned the vile outpourings directed at the RNLI, by whom he was once rescued.
He explained that the RNLI is tasked by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, but also that among seafarers there is a code that says if someone is in danger of drowning, then you go to their aid, even in times of combat. It is not common humanity not accepted practice to leave people to drown.
Our wholehearted thanks should go to the volunteer crews who give up their time to save lives, all lives, and to their families who support them.
For whatever reason you find yourself in trouble at sea, it is reassuring to know that the RNLI has your back. They will take risks to go out in all weathers to save lives, all lives, without judgement. It was gratifying and heartwarming to see that after the comments on news channels and social media, donations to the RNLI rose dramatically.
As Baron Boyce said, if media can continue to spread positivity rather than spew vile nastiness, then this helps all those involved in the RNLI to do the work they do, so we at B & B are doing our bit.
RNLI Chief Executive, Mark Dowie, said:
‘I could not be prouder of our amazing volunteer lifeboat crews, who launch to the aid of anyone who is in trouble in or around the water and needs our help. We have done this since the RNLI was founded in 1824 and this will always be our ethos.
‘Every year, our lifeboat crews and lifeguards rescue around 30,000 people. We do not judge a casualty on what circumstances have found them in trouble. Our crews are tasked by HM Coastguard in the UK and the Irish Coast Guard in Ireland to rescue anyone who is at risk of drowning. They go home after a shout secure in the knowledge that without their help, the person they rescued may not have been able to be reunited with their own family. That is why they do what they do.
‘These same principles apply to our lifesaving work in the Channel. We do not judge those we rescue – where we believe there is a risk to life at sea, we will always launch in response to a call from HM Coastguard. We want to be absolutely clear that we are incredibly proud of the work our volunteer lifeboat crews do to rescue vulnerable people in distress.
‘When our lifeboats launch, we operate under International Maritime Law, which states we are permitted and indeed obligated to enter all waters regardless of territories for search and rescue purposes. And when it comes to rescuing those people attempting to cross the Channel, we do not question why they got into trouble, who they are or where they come from. All we need to know is that they need our help.
‘Our crews do what they do because they believe that anyone can drown, but no one should. They believe in and remain focused on our core purpose, along with every member of the RNLI, to save lives at sea.’