Thursday, 24 November 2011

Warriors of the Sea

On December 9th it will be the 125th anniversary of the Mexico tragedy, when 27 RNLI volunteers from Southport and St Annes lost their lives trying to save the crew of the ship as it floundered off Formby sands.

The St Annes lifeboat – the Laura Jane- launched sometime after 9pm that night as did the Charles Biggs – the Lytham boat.

The official report at the time recorded a force 7 gale and “….the tide setting against the wind caused the sea to break heavily, rendering it extremely dangerous to boats."

The Charles Biggs managed to rescue the crew of the Mexico, the Laura Jane unfortunately never returned. The fate of the Southport boat the Eliza Fearnley was also cruel with only two of her crew surviving, the rest perished in the sea that night.

To this day it remains the worst RNLI disaster.

On the Fylde coast, our RNLI service has a proud tradition and history – they are part of the very fabric of the town, the crews are our neighbours and friends and because of their bravery and professionalism, sometimes people forget that they are all volunteers.

With the opening of the cockle beds in September, we are reminded just what a brilliant job they do and how selflessly they set out to sea to save those in distress.

You may have seen me and Katie Fieldhouse on the front of the Lytham St Annes Express this week as we are committed to helping to raise funds for the RNLI and I hope that you can help us with this task.

I asked for some help and ideas on my Facebook page a couple of weeks and was overwhelmed by the response from people wanting to help and offering support – thank you so much for your pledges and promises and I’d also like to thank Steve Singleton and the Lytham St Annes Express for their unstinting and generous support

A poem was written at the time of the Mexico tragedy and lest we forget why we are so indebted to our service I thought I’d include the last verse

Think of the sailors round our coasts who, braving sleet and snow,
Leave sweethearts, wives and little ones when duty bids them go.
Think of our sea-girt Island, a harbour where alone
No Englishman to save a life has failed to risk his own
Then when the storm howls loudest, pray of your charity
That God will bless the lifeboat, and the Warriors of the Sea.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Communication is a two way street

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.

Now there was a chap who knew something about communicating with and engaging his audiences. It’s a favourite quote of mine as it encapsulates completely the mistake we all make from time to time; “hey, I told you to do this task” …. “I told you what I wanted”, “I emailed you”, “I texted you”, “I messaged you – its been communicated, I’ve done my bit”.

Of course that’s not communication – at least its not good communication.

The KEQMS/Arnold debate, rightly has taken up a lot of column inches in local papers, periodicals, and radio time and has caused hundreds of hard pressed parents and their sons and daughters (mine included) at both schools much concern and anxiety.

Without getting into the issues and possible solutions, which I accept are complex and challenging for most of us to fully comprehend and grasp, it strikes me that first and foremost the proposal was always going to be difficult to progress, without a carefully thought through communication plan.

Any reasonable person would accept, that due to a very economic gloomy climate, that both schools inevitably might struggle to maintain reasonable numbers of pupils and revenues at this time.

It is a shame that apparently for legal reasons, the schools could not have engaged parents at an earlier stage. Imagine a dialogue between those parents (some of the brightest business minds on the Fylde Coast) and how everyone could have been galvanised and looking for opportunities to secure a prosperous future with an agreed and considered plan, a call to action, a rallying cry – the response would have been overwhelming.

Instead we have mistrust in some quarters, acrimony, resignations and frankly a bit of a PR bump, battle lines drawn and worst of all, at the moment, just more uncertainty for the kids.

All is not lost – far from it.

As I’m reviewing our own communication strategy at the moment, here at Rowleys, it’s a timely reminder that we all get our communication and messaging wrong from time to time – there is no shame in that – we all make errors of judgement, we’re human. Hopefully lines are now being drawn in the KEQMS/Arnold debate and progress will be made really quickly, but dialogue, discussion understanding and agreement is the only way to ensure real communication has taken place.