Nice one JK - I'm pleased we have such a lively debate going on - thank you to all contributors !
To those of you involved in the various lifeboat rescue services nationally - Hello & thank you for your continued selfless commitment to the ever unforgiving cause.
As a member of an Independant Service, I know how strapped we are for cash, and how hard we work with our limited resources and I've popped of and had a brew before writing anything on this thread, to ensure the content of my comment is both appropriate and gracious... cos there are a number of comments going back over the years of this thread that have 'got my goat as it were' & from my own personal point of view there are a few things that for me are very important to clarify.;
Agreed - The RNLI is arguably the world leading maritime rescue & emergency service. Certainly at Hornsea Inshore Rescue service we base our standards on those of the RNLI, MCA & RYA, and where we have specific operational cause to do so, we look at other appropriate world leading agencies like the RLSS, RAF etc. We also trawl the media accross the world for new innovations, idea's and prototypes etc and do our best to keep up with developments to do what we to as well as possibly can.
Agreed - In some quarters there is the feeling of us & them, amateurs and professionals - But I would urge us all to strongly dispell such attitudes. I defy anyone to show the professionalism of the RNLI crews above that of any of the independant services is not simply an issue that is resolved by equal monies... As for competance, I can only speak for my own service. But we have a coxswain with Humber pilots, who has several years experience as an instructor with HOTA prior to this, see http://www.hota.org/
we have a fisherman with 25 years commercial experience at sea, a former royal navy submariner & diving instructor with 18 years service, a qualified lifeguard, BCU canoeing instructor etc etc etc. A tremendous wealth of experience and expertease that is shared freely and professionally throughout the crew.
Agreed - There are probably differing standards between different stations up & down the country.
Agreed - It would be nice if we could all do the courses and have access to the same level of training that RNLI crews benefit from, it would add to our knowledge and invaluably benefit our operational capability, helping us go to the assistance of others.
And with all of that in mind, I think JK is spot on with the spirit of this thread. The RNLI, will forever receive millions of small donations from the millions of tourists that visit our coasts every year, they will continue to benefit legacy's left in peoples wills donating enough to buy the next all weather lifeboat, they will continue to have very professional & successful fundraising activities, etc etc. And rightly so. The RNLI is one of our nations most popular & enduring charitable organisations. Like the Royal British Legion, the RNLI epitimises the embodiment of absolute bravery and sacrifice, from an unquestionably distinguished history of glorious successes with moments in time marked with terrible loss. If you are in the RNLI and you support the RNLI, I take my hat off to you all in absolute gratitude for your ongoing commitment.
I dont know why the independants have sprung up in various places around the country, each has their own absolutely credible story. I only know the story of HIRS. I do know each will be because someone in a community at sometime has recognised because of their own experience, that the need exists and they had enough about them to stand in the gap, make the sacrifice and against all of the odds, work tirelessly to achieve the operational capabilities we can all benefit from today... And I know that the RNLI is not going to be affected if a small percentage of people divert their financial contributions to the independants, so that we all might enjoy the benefits of providing a continually improving service that benefits all sea farers everywhere around our coasts.
So if you feel it appropriate, and you currently give financially to the RNLI, please consider whether your contribution to the RNLI is best placed with an organisation whose standards are already pretty complete, whose crews are already fully equiped with the best gear money can buy and who are backed up by a truly amazing organisation. But please consider whether it might be more appropriate to send it to your nearest independant, that is still working to develop, still trying to fund the best equipment, still trying to train its crews to the highest possible standards, without the financial muscle to do so.
And please, please support any action to keep the volunteer maritime rescue services from coming under government control. They could never do it as well as we do. Can you imagine a rescue service with the operational efficiency of the CSA?
Thanks JK - visit HIRS anytime !