On arrival at Sovereign Harbour the casualty was transferred into the care of a waiting ambulance crew and taken to Eastbourne’s District General Hospital
On arrival at Sovereign Harbour the casualty was transferred into the care of a waiting ambulance crew and taken to Eastbourne’s District General Hospital
Everyone is familiar with the maritime call of 'women and children first' when disaster strikes however the origins are less well known especially in this country.
On a visit to the Western Cape area of South Africa 7 years ago Andy noticed the term 'Birkenhead' used in many places. He learned that this was the area where on 26th February 1852 the troopship HMS Birkenhead struck an uncharted rock off Gansbaai and sank with great loss of life.
This brought back the a story of heroism that he had heard when a child.
The troopship was taking soldiers from several regiments to take part in the eighth frontier Xhosa war in South Africa when disaster struck. During the initial impact many lost their lives below decks and with the situation grave the women and children were put on board the limited number of serviceable lifeboats on the ship.
Lieutenant Colonel Seton of the 74th Regiment of Foot took charge of all surviving military personnel and instilled the importance of maintaining discipline particularly as many were very young, newly trained and on their first expedition.
When ships Captain Salmond RN decided that the ship was lost he commanded everyone to abandon ship, however Lieutenant Colonel Seton realising that this may result in the lifeboats with the women in children on board being swamped ordered the men to stand firm. The soldiers maintained silence and order and did not move, even as the ship broke in two.
This was the origin of the term 'Birkenhead Drill' maintaining courageous behaviour when faced with hopeless circumstances.
This was the first known time in maritime history when the concept of 'women and children first' was applied and the loss of the Birkenhead was the most famous shipwreck for the 60 years prior to the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The Titanic also famously used the 'Birkenhead Drill' when placing women & children into the lifeboats first.
Reports of numbers varied but of the 643 on board only 193 were saved, with many being taken by sharks attempting to swim ashore, others clung to debris and the masts until rescued.
The iron hulled paddle steamer had been built by John Laird in 1845 as a frigate, and during 1847 she became famous for helping free Isambard Kingdom Brunel's SS Great Britain which had run aground on the sands of Dundrum Bay, Ireland. The navy changed its plans for the HMS Birkenhead soon after Brunel's famous paddle v propeller tug of war. All future warships would be propeller driven rather than paddle and so HMS Birkenhead was converted into a troopship.
There is an annual remembrance service in Gansbaai, South Africa and memorial to the ship and its men, however following investigations when Andy returned to UK he discovered that there was very little in this country. A memorial to all on board exists in the Royal Chelsea Hospital, London which was commissioned on the express wish of Queen Victoria. There is also a memorial to the Suffolk Regiment in St Mary's church, Bury-St-Edmunds. However other than a painting of the shipwreck created c1892 by Thomas Hemy and residing in the collection of the Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, nothing existed in the town that built the ship and to whom she was named after and more importantly to Andy there was nothing to link Gansbaai with Birkenhead.
Thus started what turned out to be a four year marathon to achieve a proper and permanent memorial and bring together the communities of South Africa and Wirral.
He made contact with and secured the assistance of the Mayor of Wirral and Wirral Borough Council who were bewildered as to why nothing other than the painting existed in Wirral other than the painting which had not been on display for a long time. Following on the support of John Syvret the CEO of Cammell Laird was readily given once the history became known and the services of their apprentice team secured to build a monument.
The site for a monument on the sea front next to the Ferry Terminal at Woodside was agreed and secured.
What this monument was to look like would be decided by a competition sent to Merseyside Art Colleges with a £500 prize on offer with £250 each from Andy & Cammell Laird. In addition the winning design would be built by the Cammell Laird apprentices.
The winning design was submitted by Jemma Twigg of Birkenhead Sixth Form College and then the complex and impressive monument was built at Cammell Laird by their apprentice team. During this time further links were established with South Africa and Andy was invited to attend their annual HMS Birkenhead memorial and commemoration events in February this year taking with him a letter from the Mayor of Wirral to the Mayor of Overstrand.
On the 5th March, 2014 at 11am following an introduction from the Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Dave Mitchell and an introduction to the HMS Birkenhead memorial by Andy Liston the memorial was unveiled by the Queens representative on Merseyside Dame Lorna Muirhead DBE and the Mayor of Wirral. Following the unveiling Dame Lorna laid a wreath on behalf of the Queen, the Mayor on behalf of the people of Wirral and Andy was asked by the South African High Commissioner to lay a wreath on behalf of the Republic of South Africa.
This was followed by a reading by Wirral's Young Poet Laureate Xanthe Brennan from Rudyard Kiplings poem 'Soldier an Sailor too'
To take your chance in the thick of a rush, with firing all about,
Is nothing so bad when you've cover to 'and, an' leave an' likin' to shout;
But to stand an' be still to the Birken'ead drill is a damn tough bullet to chew,
An' they done it, the Jollies -- 'Er Majesty's Jollies -- soldier an' sailor too!
Their work was done when it 'adn't begun; they was younger nor me an' you;
Their choice it was plain between drownin' in 'eaps an' bein' mopped by the screw,
So they stood an' was still to the Birken'ead drill, soldier an' sailor too
This was followed by a memorial Dedication and Blessing by Rev John Williams MBE Chaplain to the Royal Navy.
Before the sounding of the Last Post by Royal Marines an Act of Remembrance was read Captain George Waterfield of The Royal Anglian Regiment. He represented the former Suffolk Regiment of which many on board the HMS Birkenhead belonged to.
A two minutes silence followed The Last Post.
The exaltation being 'The Legion of the Living salutes the Legion of the Dead and was read by RN Commodore Dickie Baum who represented the First Sea-Lord.
The event was attended among others by many members of the armed forces both current and past including a contingents from Glasgow's for the Highland Light Infantry Association, The Royal Anglian Regiment, Royal Marines, Royal Navy. In addition representatives from Cammell Lairds, Wirral Borough Council, veteran associations, RNLI and many others.
A reception was held at Birkenhead Town Hall where Dame Lorna presented certificates to runners up of the design competition and Jemma Twigg, the award winner. Small replica's of the memorial were presented to Andy Liston, Cammell Laird Chief Executive John Syvret CBE and Jemma Twigg, in addition a gift and letter from the Mayor of Overstrand was presented to The Mayor of Wirral by Andy Liston.
The Williamson Art Gallery & Museum had arranged for the display of the famous painting of the sinking of HMS Birkenhead. This was particularly appreciated by the HLI kilted contingent from Glasgow representing Lieutenant Colonel Seton's Regiment the 74th.
When the painting returns to the Williamson it is intended that it will go on display again.
The Mayor of Wirral, Councillor Dave Mitchell said ' I was very pleased to dedicate this new memorial to those who lost their lives off the coast of South Africa 162 years ago. I am particularly pleased to be able to welcome our Armed Forces to remember this event, and to bring together the people of Wirral and South Africa in a spirit of friendship and solidarity.'
'I would especially like to thank Mr Liston, who has worked tirelessly to help this memorial come about, and to raise awareness of the HMS Birkenhead and its place in naval history'
'The memorial will take its place alongside Wirral's other important monuments to the fallen, including those at Hamilton Square and Woodside Promenade along with the wider Wirral community.'
Cammell Laird Chief Executive John Syvret CBE said 'This is a very powerful initiative that the company immediately wanted to support given our connection to HMS Birkenhead. It is very fitting that the tragic story of the ship and the origins of 'women and children first' should be remembered in the form of such a striking memorial on Merseyside for future generations',
He added 'It is important that our apprentices understand the long history of Cammell Laird and what happened to many ships built here, some of which, like HMS Birkenhead, became very famous for what they did or what happened to them. This memorial helps ensure even after more than 160 years that the heroism and courage of the men that day is not forgotten'.
Chairman of RNLI New Brighton Lifeboat Station Tony Jones commented 'Andy Liston has been a lifeboat crew member for many years and his dedication and commitment to turning an idea into reality with this memorial is typical of him. It is surprising that such an event as HMS Birkenhead's sinking and its immense effect on the international maritime community has not been properly recognised in this country till now. However down to the efforts of one individual this omission has become a reality and we are proud to have him as a member of our team at New Brighton'.
He added 'The tenacity of taking an idea to reality is exemplified in the spirit of the RNLI throughout the whole organisation'
Notes to Editors:
Andy Liston has been a volunteer at RNLI New Brighton for many years and has been a member of crew on both our Atlantic 85 lifeboat and our Hovercraft.
He is also our hovercraft mechanic.
Station website: http://www.newbrightonlifeboat.org.uk/
RNLI Media Contacts
For more information please contact Bob Warwick, RNLI New Brighton Volunteer Press Officer on mobile 0784 765 8922 - email firstname.lastname@example.org
or Alison Levett, RNLI Media Relations Manager North on 07786 668912
Members of the charity’s engineering team will be available at the RNLI’s stand to help show young people how the new Shannon class lifeboat combines innovative science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to save lives at sea.
Those attending this year’s Big Bang Fair – which takes place at Birmingham NEC from 13 to 16 March – will be able to take part in three fun and interactive activities led by RNLI engineers, as well as a host of activities led by other leading UK organisations involved in STEM.
The three activities are:
• Ship Shape: Have a go at model testing and choose a hull for the new Shannon class lifeboat. Explore real test footage and make your own engineering decisions.
• Shooting Ducks: Explore proportional control and see how it is used in the Shannon class lifeboat – by shooting rubber ducks with jets of water!
• Stuck in the Mud: Find out how tractors avoid getting stuck in the sand when launching lifeboats. Will you get your Shannon lifeboat model across the sandy beach in time for the rescue?
Steve Austen, RNLI Head of Engineering Support, said: ‘We are really looking forward to the Big Bang Fair.
‘The RNLI’s stand will show young people how science, technology, engineering and maths have been used to help create the new Shannon class lifeboat.
‘Our engineers will be available to answer any questions, as well as helping attendees take part in the three fun, hands-on activities at our stand.’
The Shannon class lifeboat is the charity’s newest class of lifeboat. It was designed in-house by RNLI engineers and is the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the fleet.
The first Shannon class lifeboat arrived at Dungeness lifeboat station in Kent on Friday 21 February. At least 50 Shannon class lifeboats are due to be produced over the next 10 years and they are expected to save over 1,500 lives.
For more information about the RNLI, please visit www.rnli.org. For more information about the Big Bang Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, please visit www.thebigbangfair.co.uk.
Notes to editors
• For more information about the Shannon class lifeboat, and to find out more about the first Shannon arriving at Dungeness lifeboat station in February 2014, please here: http://rnli.org/NewsCentre/Pages/%e2%80%98Taking-lifeboating-to-the-next-level-The-first-of-the-RNLIs-newest-design-of.aspx
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Luke Blissett, Public Relations Officer, on 01202 663184 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2012 the Society launched its ‘Come Rain or Shine’ Charity of the Year campaign for the RNLI and raised £200,000. Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation made a significant contribution to the total raised by Society colleagues and members.
Due to the success of the campaign it was rolled over into 2013 where colleagues across the Society’s 231 branches and 99 agencies committed to raising even more and managed to amass a further £150,000 through their efforts.
Yorkshire Building Society’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Pilling said: ‘Across our two year partnership with the RNLI, the commitment that our staff and members have shown in raising more than £350,000 proves that this is a charity important across all communities. This has been highlighted in the last few months of horrific weather where we have seen the key role the RNLI has played in keeping people safe.’
The money raised by the Society will be used to help the RNLI train even more vital lifesaving volunteers. The £350,000 donated to the charity over the two years will train 278 RNLI volunteer crew members.
Chris Pilling continued: ‘Our partnership with the RNLI has been a memorable and fantastic one and I am proud to have achieved our goal in helping the RNLI increase trained volunteers.’
RNLI Chief Executive, Paul Boissier, said: ‘As a charity, the RNLI relies on generous donations to continue its lifesaving service. We are extremely grateful to Yorkshire Building Society, its members and colleagues, for their outstanding support. Their dedication and enthusiasm over the past two years has resulted in a fantastic fundraising achievement.
‘Only one in ten of the RNLI’s volunteer crew members comes from a maritime background, so the rigorous training we provide them is essential. The donation from Yorkshire Building Society will fund training for 278 crew members – meaning they can head out to sea confident in how to rescue others and take care of themselves in whatever conditions they may face.’
Notes to Editors
The Society’s Charity of the Year campaign in 2012 was owned by Yorkshire Building Society Charitable Foundation. On the back of the success of the campaign the Charity of the Year now comes under the Yorkshire Building Society Group.
For more information, contact Alison Levett, RNLI Public Relations Manager North, on 07786 668912 / Alison_Levett@rnli.org.uk or Catherine Walker, Yorkshire Building Society Media Relations Officer, on 01274 472117.
A month today, the RNLI is running its first Alternative Boat Race on a stretch of the Thames just a stone’s throw up-river from the official Boat Race finish line. Some 250 model lifeboats will race against each other on the Syon Reach section of the river and rowing clubs from across the UK are being encouraged to sponsor one of the model lifeboats to help raise funds for the charity and their own club.
The winner of the race will win the RNLI Alternative Boat Race trophy while the rowing club that raises the most money will win a master class with World Rowing Championship bronze medallist, Adam Freeman-Pask. An exciting new addition to Boat Race day, the event will be preceded by a celebrity row in a 100-year-old wooden lifeboat.
Peter Dawes, RNLI Regional Operations Manager, says: ‘This event is going to be a real spectacle. As well as being good fun and a great sight, the event will raise valuable funds for the RNLI to help save lives at sea.
‘We are really keen to encourage rowing clubs to support this event by sponsoring the model lifeboats. They will be able to decorate their lifeboat with a name and club colours and they will even get to keep their mini lifeboat after the race has finished. Rowing clubs can use the Alternative Boat Race to help raise funds for their own club, with all of the money raised being split evenly between the RNLI and their rowing club.’
The RNLI’s Alternative Boat Race will take place at 4pm on Sunday 6 April 2014 and will start on Syon Reach, adjacent to Syon Park and upstream of Kew Bridge. The finish line will be 1,000m down-river close to the London Apprentice pub. The official BNY Mellon Boat Race will start at 6pm on the same day, finishing just a short distance away.
Peter Dawes continues: ‘I’d encourage anyone planning on watching the official Boat Race between Oxford and Cambridge on the Thames to support the RNLI’s Alternative Boat Race beforehand. Our event will certainly whet your appetite for the main race!’
A minimum fundraising target of £1,000 will be set for the rowing club – half of the money raised will go to the rowing club, with the other half being donated to the RNLI.
The RNLI has four lifeboat stations on the River Thames: Teddington, Chiswick, Tower and Gravesend. Last year, the RNLI rescued 67 rowers across the UK and Ireland – that’s more than one rower rescued every single week. In total, 430 people were rescued by the RNLI on the River Thames last year, with Tower being the busiest of the charity’s 237 lifeboat stations.
Notes to editors
• Keep up to date with the latest news and join the conversation using the hashtag #RNLIboatrace
• Rowing clubs interested in signing up should contact the RNLI’s Becky Meyrick on 01202 663317 or email email@example.com
• All sponsorship must be transparent and anyone who donates must know where their money is going, who their money will benefit and in what proportion.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact:
Ketchum for the RNLI
020 7611 3665
The busy coastal town, with its popular cliff walks and water sports enthusiasts, has been without a lifeboat search and rescue service for over a year after the Maritime Rescue Institute was forced to close due to severe storm damage.
With a suitable boat, full crew, funding and the newly approved crew change facility, the next step towards operational status for the RNLI in Stonehaven is to secure a boathouse close to the harbour, which it hopes to achieve over the coming months. Once operational, the trial station will go live for a minimum trial period of one year before the RNLI make a decision about its long-term future.
Richard Smith, the RNLI’s Public Relations Manager for Scotland said: “The most generous donation from Nexen has provided the RNLI with vital funds to help the charity set up a trial station at Stonehaven.”
“We are delighted with the company’s support and interest shown in the station. RNLI volunteers at Stonehaven were keen to express their gratitude, demonstrate the lifeboat and explain its operational abilities on Sunday, and also talk about the intensive training they had undertaken.”
“The donation and the decision by planners to approve an application for a crew changing facility represent two important steps in the charity’s mission to save lives at sea off the coastline at Stonehaven.”
The RNLI’s crew, led by Lifeboat Operations Manager Rod Macdonald, showcased their skills on Sunday 2 March. Following the demonstration, Nexen leadership and employees met with the RNLI volunteers to learn more about the organisation’s mandate, as well as opportunities to volunteer with the charity.
Archie Kennedy, Managing Director, Nexen Petroleum UK Limited said, “The RNLI is a vital part of our community, working to keep the seas and coastline where we live and work safe. We’re all acutely aware of and grateful for the selfless work of RNLI crews, the majority of whom are dedicated volunteers, putting themselves at risk to protect others.”
Nexen Petroleum UK Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CNOOC Limited and is part of the Nexen group of companies, which is based in Calgary, Canada. Nexen is strategically focused on three businesses — conventional oil and gas, oil sands and shale gas. In addition to its UK-based business, Nexen has operations in offshore West Africa, the Gulf of Mexico and Western Canada.
For more information contact:
Richard Smith, RNLI Public Relations Manager for Scotland, Richard_Smith@rnli.org.uk
01738 642956/07786 668903
But you don’t have to be a legendary wordsmith to leave a lasting legacy. Where 6 out of 10 RNLI lifeboat launches are only made possible through donations left in Wills, March Free Wills Month is an opportunity to make a bequest that will cost nothing in your lifetime, but make a real difference in years to come.
After taking care of loved ones, even the smallest gift in a Will is vital to saving lives at sea. Critical to the future of the RNLI, just £59 pays for a pair of waterproof binoculars to help crews identify casualties in rough seas and £85 pays for a wetsuit so that a lifeguard may reach a swimmer in trouble.
Mark Allwood, Legacy and In Memoriam Manager at the RNLI says: ‘The RNLI depends on the generosity of gifts in Wills to continue its lifesaving work. We’re excited to be able to offer the ability for members of the public to write their Will for free this month and although they are not obliged to leave a gift to their favourite charity, we really do hope they will consider doing so.’
‘Bequests may come in all shapes and sizes, from a particular sum of money, a specific gift such as jewellery or furniture, or a residuary share of estate. We appreciate all gifts left to the RNLI in Wills, large or small.’
And it’s not just Shakespeare who left a famous historical mark through legacy giving, though perhaps his unique style was matched by famous pianist André Tchaikowsky who bequeathed his skull in 1986 to the Royal Shakespeare Company. The skull was famously used in the televised 2008 production of Hamlet, starring David Tennant. The RNLI meanwhile has received some unusual and touching pledges in the past including coin and stamp collections, model trains, decorative plates, beautiful paintings and even a box of full piggy banks.
Locations for participating solicitors include Blackpool, Coventry, Darlington, Eastbourne, Hastings, Middlesbrough, Newcastle upon Tyne, Slough, Wolverhampton, York, Liverpool, Northampton, Peterborough, Sheffield, Sunderland, Wirral, Chesterfield, Chichester, Harrogate and Kent.
For more information about Free Wills Month and to find your nearest participating solicitor visit www.freewillsmonth.org.uk or call Mark Allwood on 01202 663032. There are a limited number of free Wills available.
RNLI media contacts
Joanna Dey, PR Officer (Campaigns) on firstname.lastname@example.org, 01202 336064. Or contact email@example.com, 01202 336789.
The Atlantic 85 class lifeboat Hereford Endeavour was the first to arrive on scene and found three young men clinging on to their capsized kayaks, cold and unable to get back in to the kayaks. All three men, who were from the Wirral area, were wearing lifejackets and were quickly assisted out of the water and into the lifeboat.
RAF Rescue 122 helicopter was also on scene, and since the men had been in the water for 20 minutes and were showing symptoms of hypothermia, the three were winched from the lifeboat and quickly taken to Ysbyty Gwynedd by helicopter.
As the volunteers on the Atlantic class lifeboat assisted the casualties, the lifeboat crew on the D-class lifeboat collected the kayaks and returned station.
Both lifeboats had returned to station by 12:36pm.
Later that evening the three kayakers returned to Trearddur Bay lifeboat to collect their equipment and thank the crew for their help earlier that afternoon.
Notes to editors
Attached is a video of the rescue. Credit: RNLI
RNLI media contact
For more information contact Alf Pritchard, Trearddur Bay Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 01407 860727, or contact Eleri Roberts, RNLI Press Officer on 01745 585162 / 07771 941390.
Darrel, who is also one of the volunteer senior helmsmen on the Inshore lifeboat at Rhyl, is also a crew member on the All-weather lifeboat; and is a member of the RNLI's flood rescue team. Darrel has recently been active in the flooding at Rhyl and Mid-Wales, and was a team member at Cockermouth and St.Asaph in recent years.
Darrel received his badge from RNLI Regional Technical Manager Mark Crumb (picture attached).
At the dinner, Coxswain Martin Jones said in his speech "Rhyl station was the busiest station in Wales in 2013, and we have had 4 call-outs already this year". Martin thanked his crew and their partners for all their hard work and effort, also he thanked the various Fundraising members for their support.
The dinner was attended by many representatives of the various maritime and supporting organisations around the Rhyl area; also Ann Jones, Welsh Assembly member; and Andy Rutherford, Rhyl town mayor with their respective consorts.
Coxswain Jones also added that he hoped that the work of Rhyl's volunteer crews with the offshore lifeboat would be continued at the end of the present boat's working life in a few years' time.