The Isle of Wight, with its three high-profile RNLI lifeboat stations, is very much the heartland of the charity declared the RNLI’s Chief Executive, Paul Boissier, speaking at the annual meeting of the Isle of Wight Lifeboat Board held at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes last week.
It was said at the AGM that the Island’s RNLI lifeboats of Bembridge, Cowes and Yarmouth have already launched a total of 126 times this year so far and have saved 4 lives with a total of 236 people rescued.
Upon hearing how the Island raised an amazing £300,000 for the RNLI during 2013, Mr Boissier said:
“As well as a lot of rescue business to be done there are also a number of superb fund-raising guilds and branches that seem to be able to rustle up funds almost from thin air to support the RNLI generally, and the Isle of Wight lifeboats in particular.”
Paul reported to the AGM that the RNLI overall was doing well, experiencing another busy year with launches, plus income from legacies and fund-raising, totalling £114.3 million by the end of September compared with £109.1 million the previous year.
He stressed that the RNLI staff worked hard to keep operating costs down while expanding the service. Already a ‘lean programme’ had led to annual savings of £23-million, and another £20- million of savings were envisaged for the next three years. All savings to be diverted towards the rescue service.
Despite the RNLI’s efforts, he said, about 400 people drown each year in this country, on the coast and inland. To help reduce this toll the RNLI was producing a number of Coastal Safety Action Plans aimed at helping people to be better informed about dangers associated with water.
The annual meeting was presided over by board president, the Lord Lieutenant of the Island, Maj Gen Martin White. At the start of the meeting he presented a long-service silver badge to 92 year old Joan Crabtree of Bembridge Guild, and two bronze badges to Laura Bowman and Christina Pay of the same guild. Another bronze badge recipient, Mary Morrison, of the Cowes guild, was unable to be present.
In addition, statuettes were given to Mike Samuelson and John Keyworth of Bembridge station.
Isle of Wight board hon secretary Lesley Myland spoke of the ‘exemplary way’ the stations, guilds, branches and the Inshore Lifeboat Centre had worked together. She also paid tribute to the work of the RNLI’s former fund-raising manager, Peter Tarrant, and the commitment of his mainland-based replacement, Roseanne Blaze. It was really gratifying, she said, to see co-operation grow with the local independent lifeboats at Ryde and Sandown/Shanklin.
The board meeting also received reports from representatives of stations, branches, guilds and the Inshore Lifeboat Centre.
Officers re-elected included board chairman, Lady Pigot, hon treasurer Tim Woodcock and hon secretary Lesley Myland.
Photographed L-R: John Keyworth, Major Gen White and Mike Samuelson