THE Royal National Lifeboat Institution is opening an interactive education centre at the heart of Barry Island.
The centre is the first of its kind in Wales and only the second in the UK. Volunteer manager of the RNLI Visitor Centre, Bill Kitchen, hopes the building will be open to the public by May 1.
The RNLI wants to improve public safety awareness around the water. It hopes to reduce the number of drownings by 20%.
The RNLI operates 235 lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland. Since it was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved more than 140,000 lives.
Visitors to the centre, next to the crazy golf on Barry Island, will gain a unique insight into its work and the rescues it carries out, saving an average of 23 lives a day across the UK.
The centre will build upon the education work carried out at the station to help keep children and young people safe near water.
Three sections will focus on rescues, prevention and protecting the water. And there will be fun games, crew kit to try out and a fake boat launch for children.
Mr Kitchen said: “We want people to enjoy the experience and learn something from it.”
Like most RNLI work, the centre will be run entirely by volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can come to an open day on Tuesday, April 12 between 10am and 2pm.
“The RNLI is a great organisation to volunteer for. You feel like you are part of a strong community with a great sense of purpose. And it is a great way of meeting new people.”
Sam Phillips, 16, is an education volunteer for the RNLI. He is part of a team that has spoken to 9,000 people in the last year in schools, clubs and community groups.
Sam said: “It is very rewarding work educating young children about water safety. They learn so much and remember so much. They are the ones who have to learn to stay safe.”
- Anyone interested in volunteering with the RNLI should contact Julie Sanby on 07795 306 994, or call in to the visitor centre