Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Mum gets her RNLI Gold Badge

My mum has been raising money for the RNLI for almost as long as I can remember. For many years she was Treasurer of the local RNLI committee, before taking on the role of Chair this year. We were all delighted and immensely proud to learn a few months ago that she had been awarded the prestigious RNLI Gold Badge which she would receive at a ceremony at the Barbican.  Along with two of her colleagues, she received coverage in the local press for her well-deserved award.

The RNLI might not seem like an obvious interest for a seven year old living in landlocked Birmingham but, largely thanks to his Grandma's influence, J has a real interest in lifeboats and lifeguards. He is a member of Storm Force, the Lifeboat club for children, and waits eagerly for the next edition of the Storm Force magazine to arrive.  Our holidays to the coast are not complete without trips to visit the local lifeboat stations. During our last holiday we were lucky enough to have a guided tour of the all weather lifeboat in Fowey and J was so excited.

So what perfect timing that J's school was closed for polling day on 22 May 2014, the day of Grandma's presentation!

We squeezed in a bit of sightseeing
That day we were up early for our train to London so that we could fit in a bit of sightseeing before the awards ceremony.  This was J's first sightseeing trip to London and top of his list were Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. By chance, we timed it perfectly and even saw the changing of the guard.

After a quick bite to eat and a ride on the circle line it was time for the ceremony at the Barbican.

The stage is set and the Guest of Honour arrives
The ceremony kicked off with an inspiring film showing some of the many rescues carried out by the RNLI during 2013.  I couldn't help but be astounded by the bravery of the volunteer lifeboat crews. Some of the weather conditions shown in the film were atrocious. When most people would retreat indoors, the crews don their kits and head out in storms, gale force winds and terrifying waves. What a truly amazing and courageous bunch of people!

Before the presentation of the Gold Badges, there were five special awards: Innovation, Youth, Branch, Corporate and Media. The well-known artist, Tracey Emin, was presented with the Innovation Award for her collaboration with restaurateur, James Stephenson, which involved Tracey painting and auctioning a watercolour which raised £100,000 for the RNLI.

Tracey Emin receiving her Innovation Award

J likes to dress appropriately
My mum received her Gold Badge from the Guest of Honour, Torbay coxswain Mark Criddle, who received an RNLI medal for gallantry in 2008 following his leadership of a daring two-hour rescue of 8 crew members from a stricken cargo ship. The details of the rescue are breathtaking. The cargo ship was listing at a 45 degree angle and, in severe gale force 9 winds, the crew had to make over 50 attempts to get the lifeboat in a position alongside the cargo ship where the 8 crew members could be persuaded to jump from their ship to the lifeboat. Without the efforts of the lifeboat crew, all 8 cargo ship crew would have perished.

I can think of no better person to present mum's medal than a decorated RNLI hero. After all, that is what it is all about  - all the events mum has organised over the years, all the money she has raised with her committee - it has all been for one reason, to ensure that RNLI crews have the equipment and resources they need to save lives.

Well done mum! You thoroughly deserve your award and you have made us all very proud.

Mum's big moment 

Celebrity photo-bombing

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