When the RNLI Visitor Centre in Dartmouth fully opened in December 2015 its driving force was declared to be an educational one. The aim was to inform visitors about the various arms of the charity, from lifeboats to lifeguards, flood rescue and education, both at home and abroad.
The Centre welcomes visits by organisations and schools. The Dartmouth Beavers and Cubs were the first to make an evening visit and last Thursday the Centre was closed for the afternoon when twenty six children from Kingswear primary school, led by their teacher Mrs Sarah Simnett, were the first school to use the facility.
The youngest children were seated in the demonstration D class lifeboat whilst the older ones gathered around to watch the exciting presentation of videos and photos on the screen in front of them. John Fenton, the RNLI Dart Education volunteer, led them through the development of lifeboats, dating back to the earliest ones pulled by oars to the use of modern Hovercraft used for rescues in muddy conditions where boats cannot go. The children watched film of the terrible weather conditions nowadays that the RNLI has to go out in to rescue people and realised, perhaps for the first time, how heroic the volunteers were in the past to face the same conditions under oars and sail.
Halfway through the presentation the children were challenged to find and learn a fact that none of their class knew from the various information displays around them about Coastal safety and the work of the RNLI.
Once back at school the children will be working over the next 2 weeks on various projects based on the facts they had learnt during their afternoon with the RNLI.