RNLI Sunderland
Thursday 21 October 2021

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A North East company is well on board to help keep a life-saving charity afloat. Northumbrian Water’s chief executive, Heidi Mottram, set sail this week on the RNLI’s (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) all weather lifeboat, Spirit of Northumberland, from the lifeboat station at North Shields.

Heidi, 45, who took the helm at the water company in April this year, relished the opportunity to join the crew on a training exercise and present volunteers from Sunderland RNLI with a cheque for £7086.42.

It is the first time the Sunderland crew, who travelled on their inshore lifeboat to meet the Spirit of Northumberland, have received vital funds while at sea.

NWL onboard RNLI Tynemouth Lifeboat with Sunderland RNLI Inshore Lifeboat - (c) Adrian Don

Northumbrian Water’s chief executive, Heidi Mottram onboard Tynemouth RNLI Lifeboat alongside Sunderland RNLI Inshore Lifeboat.

Northumbrian Water has supported the RNLI through its Care for Safety Challenge since the initiative began in April 2004 and has donated £44,268 in total to the worthwhile cause.  On average 22 people were rescued every day in 2009 in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

The Care for Safety Challenge uses raising money for chosen charities as an incentive for employees who work across the region to think more about health and safety at work by spotting and reporting risks resulting in reduced accidents and improving the standard of accident and incident reports.

Each time a genuine potential health and safety issue is reported or an accident or incident is reported and paperwork is completed to a good standard a donation is made to the reporting department’s chosen charity. This has triggered payments worth £309,880 to a number of charities over the past six and a half years.

Northumbrian Water's chief executive, Heidi Mottram in front of Sunderland RNLI Inshore Lifeboat - (c) Adrian Don

Northumbrian Water's chief executive, Heidi Mottram in front of Sunderland RNLI Inshore Lifeboat.

Northumbrian Water's chief executive, Heidi Mottram, said:  "I have always wanted to go out on a RNLI boat. To be able to do this was exhilarating, and to learn more about the organisation and meet the dedicated and skilled volunteers was fantastic.  I am very proud that two of our members of staff, Paul and Ian Davison, are long standing RNLI volunteers and that Northumbrian Water staff have chosen to support this vital charity through our Care for Safety Challenge. This reflects that as a company we truly are committed to supporting our communities, whether on dry land or at sea!”

Ian (42) and Paul (38) Davison, from the Newbiggin area and who both work as project managers in Northumbrian Water’s investment delivery department, joined Heidi on her sea adventure.  The brothers have volunteered at the RNLI’s Newbiggin by the Sea station since they were 17, following the footsteps of family members, and are now helmsmen.

Some of the time Paul and Ian give to the RNLI is under the water company’s Just an hour scheme.  This entitles each employee to give 15 hours a year of paid, work time to a huge variety of causes.  The scheme began in April 2002 and more than 2,000 employees have given 37,527 hours back to the local communities throughout the North East.

Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman from Sunderland RNLI, said:  “We would like to thank Northumbrian Water for this latest donation and for their continued support since 2004.  Less than ten per cent of our volunteers have a maritime background so donations of this type are vital to fund training and ensure we send confident and skilled people out to sea.  Lifeboats launched 9,223 times in 2009 - an average of 25 times every day.”

Northumbrian Water’s Paul Davison, who has been an RNLI volunteer for 21 years, said:  “The RNLI provides an essential emergency service to the local and wider community and I am really pleased that Northumbrian Water has given them this money which will go towards training – it costs around £1,200 to train a new crew member.

“Ian and I both grew up very close to the lifeboat station in Newbiggin and as soon as I turned 17 I wanted to follow the example of my uncle, cousin and older brother and join the crew!  Something I will never regret as it is a privilege to be part of such an outstanding and selfless organisation.  It is also really good that we can volunteer in work time.”

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