Exmouth RNLI and Stormy Stan visit Withycombe Raleigh Primary School.
Two Exmouth lifeboatmen who have connections with Withycombe Raleigh primary school, visited 90 foundation unit children on Thursday 1 December to give a talk about their volunteer work.
The visit was organised by Caroline Sansom, a teaching assistant at the school and also wife of Mark Sansom who has been a volunteer lifeboat crew member for 13 years. Being the wife of a lifeboat crew member is not without sacrifice, especially when the pagers go off at all times of the day and night, so when Caroline asked her husband Mark to come and give a talk he was more than happy to give something back. He visited the children with ‘Stormy Stan’ the RNLI mascot who delighted the youngsters in his colorful outfit – played out by fellow lifeboatman Chris Sims whose son Mathew is also in the foundation unit at the school.
Chris who has been a volunteer lifeboatman for 18 years said: ‘My son was in the group but he didn’t know I was dressed up as Stormy Stan. It was really sweet when I went to pick him up after school and he told me all about it. When I told him it was me, he was really surprised.’
Mark talked to the children about what being a volunteer involves and how they all have paid jobs but whenever the pagers go off, they will leave what they are doing and go to the call of duty. He explained the sorts of problems people at sea might get into and gave some sea safety advice.
Mark commented: ‘Because they were quite young, I hoped to pitch it just right and capture their imaginations and they were great, asking lots of questions. We got onto talking about wildlife at sea and one of the little girls asked me if I’d seen a mermaid. I answered no, but I am hoping to one day!’
Caroline added: ‘All the children were incredibly well behaved and listened to everything Mark was saying.’
The children enjoyed dressing up in lifeboat clothing and watched a DVD that helped explain what happens when the emergency services are called to a rescue at sea.
Before they left, Mark gave the teacher Ms Elizabeth Betambeau the recent publication of Trinity: The Lifeboat Cat for her to read to the children another time. Ms Betambeau remarked;
‘It was a very successful morning and I was impressed at just how much the children understood. I could hear them telling their parents all about it at home-time.’