On Friday I went to Fettercairn to attend the funeral of the kayaker Dominic Jackson on behalf of the RNLI.
It wasn't without some trepidation that I went along, but I felt it was the right thing to do. Dom was, inadvertently, a big part of the lives of the volunteer crews at the RNLI stations involved in the search for him, for a few short days in February.
But would I be welcome?
Any fears I had about going were soon put to the back of my mind. When I arrived at the church I was given an order of service by one of his family and then was welcomed by one of Doms cousins, the next person I met was Jeremy, Doms father, who put me totally at ease, thanking me for coming and thanking the RNLI for all they did during the search.
The service was well attended with all of Doms siblings, family, extended family, colleagues and friends.
Hearing his family speak about Dom during the service, I found genuinely interesting, for a few days in February Dom was pretty much all we thought and heard about up on the coast so learning more about him was interesting.
One of the more moving parts of what was a celebration of Doms life was his nephew Chaz who sang a song written for his Uncle Dom
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After the funeral I spoke with some of Doms brothers and extended family, everyone I spoke to was genuinely grateful for everything the RNLI crews, Coastguard and members of the public did during the search.
I spent some time speaking to Doms sister, Ellie, who had made the long journey over from Australia, about the PLanB campaign to raise awareness of PLBs for people taking part in "on water" activities.
Every year over 160 people drown around the coast of the UK, kayaking accounts for about 5 of these deaths. The RNLI launched 333 times in the UK and ROI in 2015 to kayakers who had got in to trouble or were reported as late returning / missing whilst out in a kayak. Having a means of communication that you can reach is one of the most important things you can do when you are out on the water. This has the potential to significantly reduce the number of drownings. If you don't have a method for communicating with the coastguard or other water users, then a Personal Locator Beacon will help the RNLI & Coastguard find you should you get into trouble.
With any form of communication device, a mobile phone, a VHF radio or a PLB, you have to be able to reach it so you can use it to call for help. Keep it close to hand, attached to you and your floatation device so should the worst happen, you can call for help.
We're hoping that the RNLI can work with Ellie and her family to support this going forward along with the ongoing RNLI Respect The Water campaign.
Ellie and her family along with her father will be heading up to the coast this week and we're hoping that we will be able to welcome them at Macduff Lifeboat Station so they can meet some of the crew who were involved in the search.
If any organisations locally would like more information about coastal safety they can contact me by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org