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Burnham Review Article July 2017

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The image of a spray soaked lifeboat volunteer is a powerful one, reminding us of the fragility of life set against the dreadful majesty of the sea. It plays especially well in coastal communities such as ours, where people are familiar with the arbitrary swing from pleasure to danger. The presence of the
Burnham on Crouch RNLI Lifeboat is only made possible by the generosity of spirit or the local
community. From the volunteers who give of their time and commitment for training and active duty, to
the fundraisers and members of the public who attend our events, make lifetime donations and
remember us in their wills.

One such legacy has recently been received from a local lady and, in combination with the addition to
our fleet of the new D Class ILB “David and Barbara Chapman”, it means we have achieved some extra
security to go with the extra resources we gained from the community backed move to our Burnham
Yacht Harbour home, from the old premises by the Royal Corinthian. Thanks to you all, the station is on
a sound footing.

However, more volunteers are always needed. We have a child friendly Open Day on July 8 th , when
those interested in volunteering can learn more about what it entails first hand from members of the
crew. We are also planning a recruitment day later this summer, as we have organised in the past, to
dedicate more time to respond to more detailed enquiries.

As the RNLI has progressed over the years it has adopted modern business practices which would
probably bemuse its founders. The adoption of a strategic review and business plan for 2015-19 is an
example. What they would have thought of Health and Safety assessments and sustainable business
practices does not bear thinking about, but they are part of the landscape for organisations and as a
national institution they must be part of ours.

Where this leads us is to internal organisational changes, with computer based training and resource
management and greater administrative oversight. The RNLI is swallowing that medicine right now.
Externally though, it means the RNLI is making the transition from a sea rescue service, pure and simple,
to a sea rescue service with a commitment to preventative action, using our expertise to work in
partnerships to prevent drowning. What is the difference? Well for a start it means setting targets.
These are ours:

2019
 Progress towards a 50% reduction in drowning in the UK and Ireland.
 Declining trend in serious incidents.
 Firmly established drowning prevention coalition that advocates effectively for the global cause.
2024Burnham RNLI resized IMG039
 A 50% reduction in drowning in the UK and Ireland.
 Reduction in serious incidents.
 Effective drowning prevention strategies in place in the highest risk areas internationally.

They will be achieved by getting involved in the circumstances and events that lead to someone
drowning at an earlier stage. The RNLI define this as, “The drowning chain”. This series of events is made up of a lack of understanding, information, protection, ability to cope, supervision and – ultimately – rescue.

The RNLI’s activities focus on interrupting that chain at every stage. As we expand our prevention work
to reach people long before they get into difficulty, we are equally focusing on how to measure the
impact of our activities, to ensure that we meet our targets.

Is this way of achieving our goals less exciting than driving an Atlantic 85 at 30 Knots, or hanging out of a helicopter? Most probably it is. Is it any less important? No, definitely not. If the donations we receive go to education and communication which results in one less body being pulled out of the water, it still reflect the hopes and desires of all the people who put their hands in their pockets to support us in our work.

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