Posted: 24.09.20 at 08:18 by Derek Davis
Members of a peninsula yacht club have been thanked after showing their appreciation to the RNLI by presenting a crew with £1,200 donation.
Phill Barnes, Commodore of Shotley Point Yacht Club, presented the cheque to Neal Sandquest, Coxswain of the Harwich RNLI lifeboat today.
The money was raised by raffles and other fund-raising activities by yacht club members, including an openly held before lockdown hit and had a devastating effect on the rescue team, who receive no government funding nd rely totally on donations.
Even though their biggest fundraising event had to be cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions, SPYC still managed to equal previous amounts but may struggle for next year's donation unless people dig deep.
Phill Barnes said: “As a club we have a long history of supporting the RNLI in general and the Harwich station in particular. The money we raise every year is from the proceeds of raffles or general donations and our members will always dig deep into their pockets when invited to do so.
"The RNLI is a great organisation, what they achieve nationally on a small budget is truly astounding. This year they need our support more than ever."
Coxswain Sandquest thanked the Shotley Point Yacht Club members and emphasised the important of the donation in these stricken times.
"This £1,200 is extremely useful to us," said Mr Sandquest. "That will kit out one crew member.
"Our fund raising team have really struggled over the past six months due to the virus and we have missed out on some really big fund raising events this year.
"We had hoped the Christmas fair this year but after the recent Government announcement that is not possible unlikely.
"They are a new team and have been working really hard so not to be able to put on these fundraisers is real blow."
Yachtsmen sailing out of Shotley have been among more than 50 people needing help from the Harwich RNLI in the past eight months. A call out earlier this week at 01.00 this week took the tally of emergency launches from this crew alone to 52 this year, even with a lockdown in place.
"Instead of things getting quieter, job numbers went up this summer. August was our busiest month in five years with 21 call out last month," said Mr Sandquest.
Harwich's crew which serves the rivers Stour and Orwell and the North Sea coast along Suffolk and Essex, consists of 25 members but ideally need more volunteers.
Mr Sandquest added: "We always need new recruits and while we have not been able to recruit this year so far, we are about to start recruiting again it is obviously all a lot slower than before.
"The public have not been allowed in the station, and crew members only for call outs so it has been difficult.
"We ease people in as shore crew first of all, although we don't have slipway or anything like that, get people used to being on a pager all the time because that's not for everyone. It can take up to a year, although some people can come through quicker if they have the time, skills and experience.
Shotley Point Yacht Club hold an open weekend during the summer and while the RNLI love to show off their boats, these events can help in recruitment, education as well as fundraising.
Mr Sandquest said: "It is hugely important when we do events like the SPYC event because not only is it an important fundraiser but it is fun for the crew to meet the people an for the people to ask questions of the crew. At the same time we can offer advice about going out on the water.
"The best message we can give for anyone going on, or near the water, is make sure you are properly prepared.
"If you are on a boat make sure it is properly maintained, everything is up to date, check and double check.
"If you are going on a beach, or near a beach or going out into the wilderness a bit, make sure someone knows where you are going.
"Probably the stages call out was one when we had to go to someone on the river Deben and he had cut his leg quite badly with machete, when we got there we found he already had a false leg and had injured his good leg.
"While that was a relatively simple job, that was a bit bizarre."
Shotley Point Yacht Club is based at Shotley Marina, on the opposite bank of the River Stour to Harwich RNLI station. The club is for cruising sailing yachts and motorboats, with about 130 members, and in normal years has a very busy programme of events, including some 20 cruises to other marinas and harbours, as well as shore-based social and training events.
The club has a successful and popular Crew Pool scheme, where members without their own boats crew on boats skippered by other members. This enables non-boat owners to gain valuable experience and enjoyment on the water. It also enables boat owners who are short of crew, or are no longer able to crew their boats single-handed, to continue to enjoy boating.
Earlier this year, Shotley Point Yacht Club made a donation to the Felixstowe station of the National Coastwatch Institution, who are based in Martello Tower ‘P’ on the Felixstowe seafront.
Yacht club members had a conducted tour of the tower, including its preserved historical features and the modern
well-equipped NCI lookout station on the roof.