The Prince of Wales has visited the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) College to witness its lifesaving training as the charity prepares for thousands of people to flock to the beaches during staycations this summer.
Charles watched a live demonstration by lifeboat trainers and volunteers in the Sea Survival Centre in Poole, Dorset.
He saw an exercise involving the righting of a capsized inshore lifeboat in a wave tank, with simulated thunder, lightning and darkness.
The prince heard of the challenges the RNLI has faced during the pandemic, as it kept operational throughout, saving 349 lives last year.
Stuart Popham, RNLI chairman, said: “Our committed volunteers have maintained a 24/7 rescue service throughout the pandemic and today was an opportunity for the prince to personally thank some of them for their dedicated service.
“We are expecting another busy summer as more and more people flock to the UK and Irish coastlines and His Royal Highness’s visit will help raise the profile of our services and how the public can keep themselves safe.”
Training, which is now back to a full programme, was paused during the height of lockdown to protect crew and keep the lifeboat service in operation throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
The charity said that 2020 was busier than ever for the RNLI as people headed to the beaches at home rather going abroad, so training was vital to meet the growing demand.
Only one in 10 of the RNLI’s volunteer crew members come from a professional maritime background, so training is essential.
In 2004, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the College.
Charles paid his respects at the RNLI Memorial – a sculpture which honours the courage of all lifeboat crew and search and rescue service people lost at sea while endeavouring to save the lives of others.
The prince also visited the Rainbarrow Farm near Poundbury, Dorset, to see its anaerobic digester plant.
He officially opened BioCarbonics, a new joint venture that will produce green CO2 in a sustainable manner for use by the food and drink and horticultural industry.