Articles Exmouth RNLI’s dentist volunteer drills in the importance of fundraising

Exmouth RNLI’s dentist volunteer drills in the importance of fundraising

Exmouth RNLI’s dentist volunteer drills in the importance of fundraising

At a regional award ceremony on 16 June, RNLI volunteer Hedley Saunders was awarded a silver statuette for his 10-year term as Honorary Treasurer. Hedley, a dentist by profession, has helped raise thousands of pounds for Exmouth RNLI over the last 15 years.

Over approximately 15 years, Hedley has taken part in swimathons, the Starcross swim and more recently, Six On Saddles to raise money for Exmouth RNLI. But his fundraising efforts have also extended to his profession as a dentist at the Fairfield House practice. Hedley asks patients by letter, to make a donation to Exmouth RNLI when they miss appointments. In more recent years, due to text messaging appointment reminders, the figures have dropped, but the total currently averages £2,000 per year. Speaking of his award, Hedley comments;

‘I actually feel quite humble receiving this award along with others, including Exmouth RNLI stalwart, Jean Harris. My fundraising achievements are dwarfed by her 50 years-worth and I was most honoured to receive mine at the same time.’

Hedley is an example of a volunteer who spans all aspects of the life-saving charity. He was asked to join the Exmouth Lifeboat Committee over 10 years ago for his individual fundraising efforts. Then he took the position of Honorary Treasurer, from which he stepped down from in 2012. When the new lifeboat station opened operationally in 2009, there was a need for volunteer tractor drivers to launch and recover the Mersey-class lifeboat from the beach. Hedley volunteered and it’s a position he proudly holds today.

The donations from missed appointments are contributing towards Exmouth RNLI’s launch and recovery vehicle appeal which has a target of £150,000, in time for the arrival of the new lifeboat early next year. This project is of paramount importance to Hedley, since he will be one of the volunteers to drive the bespoke vehicle when it arrives with the new Shannon-class lifeboat next year. Speaking of the vehicle, manufactured and designed by the RNLI and Devon-based Supacat, Hedley enthuses;

‘It’s going to be so much better than the current Talus tractor in lots of ways. Both the tractor and carriage have powered rubber tracks giving superior grip and traction on sand and mud. It’s also capable of wading into deeper water when launching the water jet driven boat. Another feature is that the carriage has a turntable enabling the boat to be recovered bow on and then rotated ready for launch. This will speed up the whole recovery process whilst using less man power. This piece of kit will be more efficient and work faster to help us save lives at sea.’


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