Porthcawl speaker is a big hit in Cowbridge – Glamorgan Gem

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

By GEM Community Correspondent

in Local People

It was the best talk that Cowbridge-Pontfaen Probus Club had had this year.

Well, it was the first meeting, but I’m willing to bet it will take some beating.

Our speaker was Simon Ems, an inshore lifeboat helmsman from Porthcawl, who told us about the RNLI in general and about Porthcawl and his own experiences in particular. Fascinating material, very well presented.

Simon was attracted to Porthcawl because his girlfriend – now his wife – was at school there and to the RNLI when he heard the maroons calling the volunteers to launch one of the boats.

Porthcawl, which is the busiest station in Wales, has two boats and the station also provided lifeguards at the beaches. Since it was founded in 1824, the RNLI has saved around 1,400 lives.

The service costs about £140 million a year to run – a new lifeboat costs £2 million – and is funded entirely by charitable donations, it receives no public money.

Simon mentioned various rescues of boats which had broken down, been left high and dry after anchoring over rocks at high tide, of people trapped on the cliffs at Southerndown – don’t try to rescue your dog if he runs over the edge – and of windsurfers caught by bad weather.

One recent incident was the rescue of a fisherman off Porthcawl who fell nine metres into a two to three metre swell and cut his arms badly on barnacles as he clung to the pier but, despite all this, managed to keep his spectacles on.

Simon also mentioned some of the losses such as the Mumbles lifeboat, which was lost with all her eight crew in 1947. Someone said that firemen ranked as some of the bravest people because they ran into burning buildings when everyone else was running away.

I think that the RNLI volunteers are up there with them as they launch their boats into 40 mph (and stronger) gales when everyone else has headed for safety.

This is about our tenth meeting since the Cowbridge and Pontfaen Probus clubs merged and everything seems to be going smoothly. If anyone would be interested in joining a very friendly bunch of people, give me a call on 01446 710669.

Gavin Davies

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