At the Annual General Meeting of Cheltenham branch of the RNLI held on 4th November Mr Steve Wills the National Beach Safety Manager of the RNLI gave a fascinating Presentation of the extensive and expanding life guard activities of the RNLI. Steve was particularly pleased to attend as he was one of the RNLI international special response rescue team which assisted at Tewkesbury during the floods in Gloucestershire and Warwickshire .
Initially operating in the South West and North East the RNLI Lifeguard Service is now present at over 100 beaches covered by fully equipped professionally trained and qualified RNLI Lifeguards . Plans and budgets are in place to increase the service each year as part of the integrated service of the RNLI.
This expansion is being implemented in collaboration with local authorities around the coast to further strengthen the world class ring of safety provided by the RNLI. In addition there is in place an important programme of safety education and information including a special focus on the young inland population & their parents who may not always be sufficiently aware of
the risks and how they can be avoided when visiting the sea-side or taking part in inland water based leisure activities . With over 7000 potentially life threatening incidents occurring on and around our beaches each year the emphasis is on recognition and prevention of risk .
The new Chairman of Cheltenham branch appointed at the AGM Mr John Couch thanked Steve for the important messages so clearly and interestingly presented. He also thanked the many RNLI supporters in the Cheltenham branch. John emphasised how the RNLI as a national charity regards supporters and volunteers as the life-blood of its Lifeboat and Lifeguard integrated organisation.
He also paid tribute to the outgoing Chairman Mr Frank Austin who was presented by the Cheltenham branch president the Mayor Lloyd Sturgenor with a special certificate after 22 years voluntary service as Chairman and who was this year awarded the RNLI gold medal in recognition of his service and of the significant contribution of the committee and the Cheltenham area supporters of the RNLI. (See photograph)
Both John and Frank emphasised how important it is to the RNLI that Cheltenham branch - arguably one of the leading inland fund raising branches in the South West - should continue to encourage active support by supporters and volunteers. A full programme of events for 2010 will be published and distributed at the end of this year
Source: RNLI Cheltenham branch