Rescued by some wonderful dogs
Bookham & Leatherhead Branch ran its second rescue day in association with SEWN (South Eastern Working Newfoundland Dogs) on Sunday 22 July 2018 thanks to the generosity of Littleton Sailing Club allowing us to use one of the slipways and a small part of their beautiful sailing lake near Shepperton.
A dozen of these wonderful dogs took turns to rescue willing victims who jumped into the warm waters of the lake. They had been sponsored by friends and family; raising funds for the RNLI while having a very different day out. A number of members of the sailing club also joined the fun.
The idea for the day comes from Richard Bywaters, our branch chairman who led the re-launch of the branch in 2008. He had seen the dogs helping to raise charity funds on the south coast and has worked to make the event happen twice at Littleton.
He not only developed the idea but led by example, being rescued twice himself.
The dogs had a great workout, completing 37 rescues during the day. They are very gentle giants but immensely strong. They have a double coat of fur, the under coat does not get wet, so they keep warm in the coldest water. Their strength and webbed paws make them powerful swimmers, not using the expected doggy paddle a method akin to breast stroke, enabling them to undertake a number of different tasks – from being sent from the shore or jumping from a boat to rescue a victim, to bringing a boat back to the shore, their favourite activity for which they were originally bred by the fishermen in Newfoundland. One dog easily towed the safety boat to the shore. They also undertook multiple rescues where two victims were brought safely home together.
With the safety boat in close attendance and buoyancy aids available for anyone who felt more comfortable wearing one (mandatory for the younger participants) all the victims felt safe and with the lake warm after the recent very hot weather some enjoyed themselves so much they went in for another go!
With sponsorship moneys still coming in the final amount raised is not yet known but everybody had a wonderful day, enjoying a picnic and watching the rescues when they were not directly involved.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.