The other crisp Sunday morning we had the great fortune to time our weekly promenade walk with the routine training exercise of the volunteer RNLI team in St. Annes. There are 237 lifeboat stations around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland and 346 operational lifeboats covering 19,000 miles of coastline. It was fascinating and inspiring to see these committed men converge in their own free time on a Sunday morning and in a disciplined manner prepare and launch such an impressive safety vessel.
I was surprised not more people were there to watch the lifeboat being lowered down onto the St. Annes sands and towed out towards the Ribble estuary. I guess in many ways it summed up nicely what the RNLI is all about though, focused on the cause and with little fuss. These men did not crave limelight or financial reward, it was obvious that they were doing something that they believed in and as Darren, one of the crew said to me: ‘the best thing about volunteering is being part of a team of people who don’t want to let anyone down.’
Without their volunteers the RNLI could not save lives at sea. These volunteers account for 4600 crew members, 3000 shore crew and station management, and 150 volunteer lifeguards. There are also tens of thousands of other volunteers that raise vital funds, awareness and give safety advice for the RNLI. In 2012, the RNLI made 8346 launches of which 3120 were in darkness.
This resulted in 7964 people being rescued at an average of 22 people per day. 328 lives were saved.
As I read more about the RNLI and in particular the St. Annes station and crew I noticed a phone number at the bottom of one of the information posters. Next to the number was a name and a notice to contact him if anyone was interested in volunteering for the station and crew. I took a photo of the notice on my phone for future reference and turned to my kids and said: ‘I know what my next Global Citizenship Award target is going to be…’
What did you do this Sunday? We decided to go for a walk around Fairhaven Lake in the bright late January sunshine. An easy walk for a family of five, especially with scooters in hand, you may even call it a typical Sunday afternoon walk. On this crisp and clear day we could see right across the estuary, probably the best view we have had since living in the area, with Southport seeming to be only a stones throw away. Seeing silhouettes of people out on the horizon and giving in to the allure of the mostly untouched vista of sand in front of us, we clambered down the promenade wall and headed out into the estuary looking for the mighty Ribble.
A dinosaur in the sand
Pretty quickly we could see a strange and weird shape in the distance jutting out of the baron sand. It looked like it could be close to the river as the sand seemed to dip down just beyond the mysterious object. So we headed towards it to investigate. As we made our way out into the unknown and leaving the civilization of Lytham St. Annes behind us, Jonah observed that “this might be like walking on the moon.” Although, even the moon is not as windy as the Fylde coast! The closer we got to the object the more it began to look like a large skeleton, particularly one of a dinosaur – like you may see in a museum.
The dinosaur in the sand was in fact (disappointingly to the kids) a large piece of drift wood that had become well lodged into the sand banks and not a skeleton. We did have a good chat about where the tree may have come from though and how it had got there. It definitely created an eerie feel to the landscape, especially with the relentless wind filtering sand through the lattice like wooded frame. We said goodbye to the prehistoric relic and completed our mission down the final dip to admire the Ribble as it glimmered its way past us and out into the salty Irish Sea. Three tasty Drunmstick lollipops were freed from deep within the interior of the coat pocket as a satisfying treat for all, with the added incentive of being a psychological bribe, we turned 180 degrees head-on into the howling icy wind and made the long walk back to the mainland. We had a typical Sunday walk to complete.