Hastings Senior Men’s Forum

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On February 10 we had a talk from Derek Legg on the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

The RNLI was formed in 1824 and in the period from 1824 until the present time it is estimated that crews have saved more than 137,000 people. The first boat that was stationed in Eastbourne was called Badger.

In 1824 a Mr E Hillory went out to save HMS Vigilant and he and his craft went out again and again and saved four more on the same day. He realised more had to be done and so with other dignitaries formed the basis of the RNLI, and now it has lifeguards on most of our beaches.

The RNLI is now operating from beaches and up to 100 miles out to sea and now also covers inland waterways. The minimum age of a crew member is 17 years. To call out a lifeboat dial 999 or 111 and ask for the Coastguard; the call goes to Dover and then a call to the local station where the call will go on the red button and within 10 minutes the local crew will be on their way. There are more than 330 lifeboats throughout the country and the latest ones are water jet powered. Training is essential to ensure all crews have the high standard to undertake rescue in often appalling conditions. Many of us owe our lives to these efficient crews.

On February 24 we had an illustrated talk from Darren Maylam on Pestalozzi Village in Sedlescombe. It opened 50 years ago to accommodate young people from nine different countries to study in England. It was originally for children of school age, but is now open for children from 16 to 18 years of age who will stay for two years on a pre-university course. The scheme is multicultural and multi-faith.

Pre-condition for those chosen is they must have a good knowledge of English for both studying and for communicating with each other. The selection of students is quite stiff requiring them to pass an exam for science, maths, and English and they must be able to set up a scheme that will help in their country.

They go back in the summer holidays to work on this particular project. More than 600 students have come through the village since it started. The organisation pays about £20,000 per student to cover air fares, course fees, and accommodation and receive donations from sponsors to cover the costs.