Family and friends of a man who tragically lost his life while swimming off the Wirral coast visited Hoylake RNLI lifeboat station on Saturday 20 May to present a donation in his memory to one of the lifeboat crews that helped search for him.
Haydn Griffiths was an accomplished athlete and sailor from Lowton near Wigan, where the 23-year-old sailed competitively as a member of Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club (LLSC).
Following Haydn’s sad passing in July 2022, the club decided to rename a racing event and establish a trophy in his memory that would raise funds for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
Volunteer lifeboat crew from the RNLI at Hoylake and New Brighton took part in the multi-agency search for Haydn after he got into difficulty in the water last summer.
The inaugural Haydn Griffiths RNLI Trophy Day was held at LLSC on Sunday 2 April 2023, with sailing club members and visitors taking part in numerous races throughout the day. The club raised £303 for the RNLI through entry fees and donations, with the RNLI’s St. Helens and District Fundraising Branch also hosting a stall and raising £500.
The competition raised a total of over £800 for the lifesaving charity. A hand-crafted wooden trophy bearing Haydn’s name and featuring an RNLI lifeboat powering through mountainous waves was presented for the first time to the event winner.
Haydn’s sisters Megan and Brogan and baby nephew Roman visited Hoylake RNLI lifeboat station on 20 May with some of Haydn’s friends and members of the Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club. They met the station’s volunteer crew, before LLSC President Mike Barnes presented the club’s donation to Deputy 2nd Coxswain Matt Pownall-Jones.
The funds raised will go towards West Kirby RNLI’s appeal to fund a new D class inshore lifeboat for the Wirral station.
Following the presentation, LLSC President Mike Barnes said, “Haydn learned to sail as a young boy at Leigh and Lowton Sailing Club and went on to be an exceptional sailor. He also gave his time freely as he grew up, teaching and coaching at the club.
“We have traditionally held an RNLI fundraising event, so it felt only natural to re-badge the event as the Haydn Griffiths RNLI Trophy Day. Most of us at the club end up on the sea at some point and are incredibly grateful to have the RNLI in support when things go wrong.”
The Griffiths family have become advocates for water safety and drowning prevention through their ‘Stay Safe for Haydn’ campaign, while also raising funds for the RNLI. Megan took part in the Trophy Day, paying tribute to her brother by racing in his Laser class dinghy. Brogan was 7 months pregnant during the search for Haydn. She is now completing the RNLI Mayday Mile with baby Roman, walking a mile every day in May to support the charity’s volunteers.
Speaking on behalf of her family, Megan said, “We are forever grateful to the RNLI crews at New Brighton and Hoylake for their tremendous efforts during the search for Haydn. They gave him the best possible chance of being found.
“They searched relentlessly and have continued to support our family throughout. It’s our turn to support them, with fundraising and awareness-raising. This is our Haydn’s legacy and we will keep it alive.”
After the funds raised by the sailing club were presented to the RNLI volunteers, they gave their visitors a guided tour of Hoylake’s Shannon class lifeboat, Inshore Rescue Hovercraft and boathouse.
Megan added, “Visiting Hoylake for the first time since the search for Haydn last year, we were very apprehensive. I think that having baby Roman with us gave Brogan and myself the strength to do it. When we arrived the emotions hit us hard, but we were overwhelmed with love and support from the RNLI crew members who had all come especially to meet us. Smiling faces of amazing humans!
“The kit that the RNLI have here is fantastic, the boat is amazing, and it was very cool to see everything up close and learn about it and the crew’s roles. You can really see and understand why fundraising is so important, to keep these things running and safe. The crew who work and volunteer here have a massive job and every role is so important to the functioning of the RNLI. They save lives at sea, they’re all incredible!”
Accepting the donation on behalf of the RNLI, Deputy 2nd Coxswain Matt Pownall-Jones said, “Our volunteers want to thank everyone who organised and took part in the Haydn Griffiths RNLI Trophy Day. It’s incredibly touching to see how many people have come together to help leave a special and lasting legacy in Haydn’s memory. The money raised will help fund a brand new lifeboat for West Kirby RNLI, which will save lives on the Wirral coast for many years to come.”
Main image: It was the first time that sisters Brogan (left) and Megan (right) had visited Hoylake RNLI since their brother passed away. Brogan’s baby son Roman joined them on the visit
Images: Hoylake RNLI/Griffiths family