Wirral children taught RNLI’s ‘float to live’ skills before summer holidays

During a week of sessions in July, Helen Diamond Swimming School taught 1,148 of its young pupils the RNLI’s key ‘float to live’ safety technique in the pools at Stanley School in Pensby, Birkenhead High School Academy and Calday Grange in West Kirby.

Hoylake RNLI lifeboat crew member and water safety advisor Dave Bates was invited to join the team at some of the sessions, where he spoke to both the children and their parents about the importance of floating if they get into difficulty in the water.

Dave was joined at one session by fellow volunteer Kev Latcham, where they passed on some of the RNLI’s other tips for staying safe at the beach such as stopping to think about the dangers, staying together, and only swimming where there are lifeguards while staying between their red and yellow flags.

With many families heading to the coast or the pool while on holiday in the UK and abroad, these vital skills will help keep them safe in and around the water this summer and beyond.

Following the swimming sessions, parents and supporters kindly donated £499.22 to the RNLI in support of the charity’s 24-hour search and rescue service and drowning prevention work. Helen Diamond also made a very generous personal donation of £1,000 and visited Hoylake RNLI lifeboat station to present the lifesaving funds to the grateful lifeboat crew.

Helen has been teaching swimming for nearly 30 years and it is very much a family business, as her two daughters are also qualified swimming teachers. Among the school’s 50 staff are a number of RNLI Lifeguards, who have a real passion for both swimming and water safety.

Helen said, “Thank you to the team at Hoylake RNLI for an amazing week supporting our swim school in raising awareness around water safety ahead of the summer. We know all too well the dangers. After some recent tragic losses of young people in the water, the message can’t be highlighted enough.’

“Last year we followed the RNLI’s “float to live” messages in our classes and this year we went all out. It was wonderful to have the support of Dave who could spend time talking to the children and adults. Having Dave made a huge impact, as one child said, “he is a real lifeboat man!”’

“It’s so important to understand why we learn to swim, how to be safe and to educate adults that sitting on a poolside for years watching swimming lessons can literally save a life. I always compare it to learning to read and write, it is a skill we need.”

Following the sessions, one parent added: ‘Our son has instantly picked up the float technique after last week’s lesson and was practising at our family swim this weekend.’

Dave Bates said, “When delivering water safety sessions, I often find myself telling people how to float, but Helen and her team went beyond that and showed them how. Teaching them in clothes or pyjamas also gave the children the opportunity to experience being in the water whilst clothed.’

“These children are already learning to swim, but there is much more to being safe in and around water. The RNLI messages and these skills can save your life whether you are a non-swimmer or a county champion, especially if you have fallen into cold water.

“I’m so grateful to Helen and her team for giving us the opportunity to talk to her swimmers and their families about water safety. This was a very successful event and I look forward to working alongside her again in the future.”

Dave added, “We’re overwhelmed by the generosity of parents and in particular by Helen, as she put so much effort into organising these lifesaving sessions. Their kind donations will help the RNLI continue saving lives at sea and on the coast this summer.”

Images: Helen Diamond Swimming School

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