RNLI's Lifeboat College Opens

Opening ceremonies for the RNLIs new Lifeboat College at Poole.
Opening ceremonies for the RNLIs new Lifeboat College at Poole.
The new facility enables capsize drills under realistic but controlled conditions.
The new facility enables capsize drills under realistic but controlled conditions.

Continuing its commitment to providing the highest possible level of training, and subsequently saving the highest possible number of lives, the RNLI has opened the unique and purpose built Lifeboat College near its Poole headquarters. The project, which cost a total of £ 25m and has an estimated annual running cost of £ 1.1m, was funded by donors and supporters of the RNLI.

The college boasts a dedicated survival centre with a wave tank, a lifeboat bridge simulator, a 'live' engine workshop and video production suite, and will, for the first time bring the RNLI's entire range of training under one roof. The survival centre allows trainees to undertake capsize drills under 'realistic but controlled conditions'.

The five story residential college, which has 60 bedrooms, training and seminar rooms, a 150 seat auditorium as well as a kitchen, restaurant, bar, and fitness facilities, looks set to become a new seafront landmark on the Dorset coast.

It offers progressive, specialist training, career development and externally accredited training.

As well as on site training, the college will also support distance learning and training, with a learning resources centre for crew, volunteers and staff.

The facility will make a huge difference to the training of the RNLI's 4,600 crew members around the country, fewer than 10% of whom have a maritime background. Some 4,000 students are expected to pass through the college each year.

From the cutting of the first turf on 13 January 2003, through the laying of the foundation stone by Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie to the official opening by RNLI patron, Her Majesty the Queen, the college has been a huge and unique project for the RNLI, being the first such establishment in the world. The training of RNLI volunteers is expected to occupy some 75% of the college's capacity, with the remainder potentially used to raise revenue for the institution.

Lifeboat College principal Sue Hennessey said, 'This new college will enable us to improve greatly the specialist facilities needed to provide our crews with all aspects of the training they should have to prepare them for the demands of saving lives at sea.'

At the official opening ceremony, Her Majesty the Queen said, 'Having just seen some of the excellent training that is already being delivered, I am certain that the Lifeboat College will play a vital role in helping the RNLI to save even more lives at sea.'

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