It was important from the outset to carry the campaign message beyond West Wales. We took it to a few high-profile places, raised a few eyebrows, and raised awareness at RNLI HQ in Poole that we meant business.
London Boat Show
We turned up at the London Boat Show 2018. One of our campaign activists and crew member Huw and his son Steffan wore half-lifeboat kit. The message to the RNLI:
‘You wouldn’t send me out in half my kit. How am I to save lives at sea with NO LIFEBOAT IN A STORM?’
The plan was to meet and greet staff and visitors to the RNLI stand…. Show security had other plans.
One exhibitor at least was pleased to give us a ‘platform’. We achieved good press coverage and a strong message was sent to Poole.
Volvo Ocean Race
We also had a presence at the Cardiff leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. We did manage to meet and greet people on the RNLI stand and one or two wished us luck. We also met and chatted with stewards and visitors to the event.
RNLI AGM 2018
Although the RNLI had been so secretive and defensive from the moment they announced the decision to axe the New Quay All-weather Lifeboat and had been challenged by the CLC and others, they were open in arranging the 2018 AGM. We’d booked seats in our own names and raised a number of difficult questions in writing in advance.
We surprised the RNLI Management and focused their attention when one of our staunchest supporters cruised our big ‘NO LIFEBOAT IN A STORM’ banner up and down in front of RNLI HQ and the All-weather Lifeboat building facility two days before the event. We posted the image on Facebook. To our surprise, on our arrival, suited and booted, our chair was whisked off for a pre-AGM conversation with the chair of the RNLI trustees. Since other questions from the floor were thin on the ground, all five of our probing questions were raised – and deflected or addressed without precision. However, both the then Chief Executive and Operations Director were keen to meet at the end of the AGM, anxious to ‘draw a line under the badly handled responses to the CLC’s challenge to date’ and to ‘make a more open and accountable new start’. We were enticed by a promise that there would be an announcement of ‘something we would be pleased to hear’.
FOOTNOTE. CLC agreed to meet, making it clear that our determination to make the case to maintain all-weather search and rescue provision at New Quay would never falter. We met a few times and exchanged correspondence. Sadly, the RNLI was never willing to give up its desire for secrecy and the talks collapsed. The campaign however continues at full strength.