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Funding helps vital water safety training continue

Dunbar Surf Life Saving Club

Scotland’s only coastal water safety education club is back open after ‘lockdown’ after receiving a grant from Community Windpower and BeGreen Dunbar’s joint £255,000 Covid-19 crisis fund.

Members at Dunbar Surf Life Saving Club (DSLSC) in East Lothian had been unable to meet up and coaches prevented from providing vital training exercises, due to insufficient funds to purchase the equipment required to adhere to Government guidelines.

Based at Belhaven Surf Centre, which was built using £10,000 of funding from Community Windpower and BeGreen Dunbar in 2019, the club is run by highly-qualified and experienced volunteers and provides water safety training to children and adults from all walks of life.

Now, thanks to the grant from Community Windpower and BeGreen Dunbar’s joint £255,000 Covid-19 crisis fund, the club is able to open again and continue training young people to be safe in the water.

Janet McDougall Welch, from Dunbar Surf Life Saving Club, said: “DSLSC was established in 2014 to address the gap in provision for coastal water safety education in East Lothian. It has 30 members, seven coaches and five volunteers looking after admin and fundraising.

“We provide a unique and innovative approach that is contributing towards Water Safety Scotland Strategy’s target to reduce Scottish drowning statistics by 50% by 2026.

“However, the coronavirus situation meant we couldn’t continue providing education, first aid, surf lifesaving skills and increasing knowledge, as well improving the physical and mental health of members.

“We needed additional funding to enable the members and coaches to continue the vital training exercises, which is when we turned to BeGreen and Community Windpower’s Covid-19 crisis fund.

“The £1,250 provided has been vital to get us back up and running, continue training and help young people be part of the wider community of life savers in the area.

“Among the items the club has been able to purchase are PPE equipment, hand sanitisers and a surf rescue mannequin, which is essential because at the moment we can’t practice close contact lifesaving skills on each other.”

The club offers internationally recognised vocational qualifications to people of all ages, who can benefit, not only by achieving qualifications, but also by gaining volunteering experience and being part of a skilled safety team.

Dunbar Surf Life Saving Club is a registered charity and affiliated to Surf Life Saving GB and the Scottish Surfing Federation, while it is also recognised and supported by the RNLI.

Janet continued: “Our Belhaven ‘Baywatch’ team is comprised of highly trained and resourced volunteers, who contribute to improving the safety of all beach users.

“Many members are training to be surfers and the training helps them when in the water and also if they see anyone else in trouble while out surfing or simply near the water.

“Participants in the training are aged 8-17 and we are always looking for volunteer coaches to help out.

“As a club we can’t thank Community Windpower and BeGreen enough for their support, it really could be lifesaving.”

Diane Wood, community benefits director at Community Windpower, which operates the Aikengall Community Wind Farms in East Lothian, said: “We’re currently living in unprecedented times and it’s vital we pull together to support local community organisations.

Dunbar Surf Life Saving Club equips people with knowledge and skills to keep themselves safe in and around the water, but also enables them to help keep the wider community safe too.

“We are only too happy to help the club and its members get back to meeting up and carrying out the vital training exercises.

“Getting people outdoors and active, while keeping them safe and helping them to keep a healthy mind, is one of the key aspects of how we can improve self-esteem and mental wellbeing.”

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