We Never Duck A Challenge
The Bank Holiday weekend was a particularly busy one on the water for Serve On volunteers as they combined rescue training with community events in Salisbury and at Hayling Island, allowing others to have fun in safety.
Members of the Salisbury and Portsmouth Community Resilience Teams and the International Response Team were out in force to provide safety cover for the Hayling Island Sailing Club (HISC) Whitsun Open Regatta on Saturday and Sunday.
Our boats patrolled the waters of Hayling Bay and Chichester Harbour for several adult and junior races, in various sailing classes, and were on hand to assist any competitors who got into trouble.
While they performed a vital safety role, it was also a good opportunity to practice boat handling and crewing skills, not to mention catching some sunshine.
After a hectic two days, the teams, and others, had to be back in Salisbury for 7am on Monday to provide safety cover for the water events at the Five Rivers Festival organised by the Salisbury Rotary Club.
The new River Float event promised to be the perfect way to chill out on a Bank Holiday for those taking part, and a good test of operational organisation for Serve On volunteers.
Community Resilience Team members had already cleared hazards from the River Avon, from Stinkpot Bridge down to Ashley Green, in advance of the family river float.
On Monday morning they joined Rotary Club volunteers to organise and safely escort the lucky participants who enjoyed a gentle glide on inflatables for almost a mile through the beautiful Avon Valley Nature Reserve.
Afterwards, there was just time to clear the river of any course markings, or any fishing line the volunteers found in the trees which could harm wildlife, before the team headed over to the Salisbury Sea Cadets base beside Churchill Garden ready to provide safety cover for a Duck Race – Five Rivers Festival-style.
Instead of throwing numbered ducks into the water and letting the current dictate the race winner, competitors in the Salisbury Duck Race had to paddle giant inflatable ducks down a 50m course on the River Avon.
Serve On volunteers, joined by members of the Dog Team, set up safety lines in advance, put rescuers in place in case any competitors got into difficulty, and helped racers – and ducks – out of the water after each race.
In spite of the cold water, the event was a fantastic success - great fun as well as hugely competitive!
Festival co-ordinator and local businessman David Clayton told our Operations Manager Craig afterwards: “A HUGE thanks to you and all your guys for today. Couldn’t have done it without you and hope we can potentially do it again with you guys next year!”
Craig said of the weekend: “It was a brilliant effort, great fun and, as ever, good operational experience. There was lots learned and fine-tuned, more experience gained afloat, both as crew and helms, and the team did us all proud. Well done.”
Thanks to Dionne, Patrick, Craig, Matt, Paul, Nikky and Jazz for the photos.