On Friday, June 4, member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye, Sally-Ann Hart visited the volunteers at Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat (PLIRB).
Sally-Ann has been a keen supporter of the charity, both in her role as a local MP and in her work with other MPs to build awareness about the work of independent lifeboat and rescue boat charities.
This most recent visit was a welcome follow up to her visit to the PLIRB boathouse last year. On that occasion, the local MP visited to find out more about the self-funded charity’s continued service throughout lockdowns, despite the problems the charity was experiencing with fundraising generally and in accessing pandemic support grants from the government specifically.
This time around, however, Sally-Ann was very pleased to have heard that the PLIRB have finally received a Rother discretionary grant of just under £5,000 to help towards the deficit in the £10,000 a year running costs that keep the rescue charity afloat, stating: “I was really pleased to hear that the government grant has been useful. I would urge everyone to support this local charity that does so much to support its local community and beach safety.”
Boathouse tour and discussing the dangers
Helmsman and PLIRB volunteer Steve Hill gave Sally-Ann another tour of the charity’s facilities. Inside the boathouse, Sally-Ann was able to review the log book which shows a number of call-outs, rescue and patrol tasks already carried out by the volunteers this year. Steve was also able to talk about his work in local schools and community groups, sadly not possible since the start of the pandemic. Being unable to provide community safety talks means that many visitors – and even residents – at local beaches are not aware of the risks, despite the number of Rother Council safety and warning signs in the area.
The costs and plans for keeping the rescue service fully equipped and operational were also discussed and Sally-Ann was excited to hear about the latest equipment upgrade the charity is planning, that of a new bluetooth, hands-free communication system.
Meeting the latest addition
Sally-Ann also had the opportunity to ‘meet’ the results of the last big upgrade campaign – the almost-finished replacement launch & recovery vehicle. This vehicle is a vital piece of equipment which is needed for every launch of the charity’s rescue boats. Due to the extreme hazards of Pett Level beach at both high and low tides, the vehicle needs to be fully robust and extremely reliable.
The vehicle was originally purchased as a used launch vehicle from another independent rescue service based at Ryde on the Isle of Wight. After a significant fundraising campaign across several years to 2020, the £25,000 refit of the vehicle is now largely completed. PLIRB chair, Kev Nuttall demonstrated some of the necessary adaptations to the vehicle to Sally-Ann, before explaining how the previous launch vehicle (that this one replaces) now needs its own upgrade so that it can become a functional reserve vehicle.
Despite the rapidly deteriorating weather, Sally-Ann then chatted to other volunteers about recent call outs, their work during the pandemic and the difference that finally receiving the Rother Council grant will make to the fundraising, commenting afterwards: “It’s great to have an update on the work that the volunteers at Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat are engaging with, and to see the new launch and recovery vehicle.”
As a parliamentary representative of a coastal constituency, Sally-Ann also commented on her work to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by self-funded rescue services, sharing:
“I’m working with other MPs who have independent rescue boats in their constituencies so that, as a group, we can see how we can help. Working together, we are setting up an independent lifeboat association to help our local independent lifeboat charities have a voice nationally.”
After the visit, PLIRB chair Kev stated: “it was good to see Sally-Ann Hart, even though it was so wet and blustery for her visit! Sally-Ann had a good look around the rescue boat facilities and was impressed with what she saw. It’s good to receive the support for what we do and we are heartened by her ongoing support, especially with her involvement with the start of a national independent lifeboat association. Everyone here is a volunteer and we look forward to more interest and support in the future.”
If you would like to know more about Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat, please visit plirb.com.
Image Credits: Katherine Crowther .