Meeting of Wednesday, 6th February 2019: Guest Speaker: Mr Peter Scott, Education Officer, RNLI.
Peter was introduced by 1st Vice-President, Michael Cooney, as someone with whom he had spent many hours on the waters of Lough Erne providing emergency cover during boating events and sailing regattas on the lake. Starting out in Enniskillen as the privately funded Lough Erne Rescue Service, recognition was gained in 2001 when it became the first inland RNLI Station in the British Isles. Since then a second state of the art facility has been opened on the Lough at Carey Bridge. 95% of all RNLI personnel are volunteers and all are competency trained in the necessary skills. While the RNLI is justly proud of rescues made at sea and in major inland waterways, the Institution aims to go further with an education programme that alerts boat users, surfers and swimmers to the dangers of open water. Fishermen on jetties, party goers on cruisers and people larking about on the bank all need to be aware of the hazards of being on or near deep dark cold water.
Peter illustrated his talk with video clips and equipment demonstrations before inviting questions. These elucidated that the busiest lifeboat station in Britain is on the River Thames, that emergencies on rivers and small lakes are dealt with by the Fire and Rescue Service and that the RNLI needs £25 m per annum to stay afloat. Vandalism of emergency equipment such as like- belts on piers and embankments is a problem that is being tackled by the Police and Community Safety Partnership as part of a wider programme aimed at keeping people safe around water.
Peter’s talk was very well received and prompted several members to reminisce on the boating, sailing and fishing escapades of their past.