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Robin Emsworth presents excellence awards to Colin and Helen Wilkinson

The annual meeting of the RNLI’s Isle of Wight Lifeboat Board heard how over 1,300 children benefitted from this year’s Swim Safe scheme, staged on the beach and in the sea at Sandown during the summer.

The scheme came on the back of a similar Sandown scheme in 2018, officially acknowledged as the Best Overall Swim Safe project in the UK.

A report by Swim Safe Partnership Co-ordinators Roger and Julie Matthews suggested even more children would have undergone the life-saving training this year but for the wettest August for seven years. Youngsters aged between 7 and 14 benefitted, both Islanders and those on holiday. Accompanying parents also received key messages.

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Altogether 13 of the 52 Island schools participated, and despite the changeable weather, 747 other children attended public sessions.

The scheme also involved Swim England, Island RNLI volunteers and staff, Ryde’s Waterside Community Trust, Sandown Town Council, and the Isle of Wight Council.

Praising the scheme, board chairman Robin Emsworth, declared:

“This is a fine example of the RNLI’s community safety initiatives to save lives at sea.”

The annual meeting also received extensive reports from the Island’s 3 lifeboat stations, the Inshore Lifeboat Centre, and the various fundraising guilds and branches.

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Thanking the hon treasurer, Tim Woodstock, for all his work, Robin Emsworth noted that some £230,000 had been raised for the RNLI on the Island last year.

“It is only through the hard work of all our volunteer fund-raisers, with the active support of lifeboat crews, we are able to achieve these outstanding results.”

He also warmly thanked the board’s hon secretary, Lesley Myland, for her accurate work for the board.

Listed at the back of the AGM booklet were 17 people on the Island awarded the charity’s Excellence in Volunteering Awards. Receiving theirs at the meeting were Colin and Helen Wilkinson, leading long-serving members of the East Cowes branch, whose efforts have helped raise significant money for the RNLI over the years.

Elected the new president of the board was Mrs Susie Sheldon, the Island’s Lord-Lieutenant – replacing the former Lord Lieutenant, Major General Sir Martin White in the post.

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