I’VE just had a letter from the RNLI begging for money. Living fairly close to the sea, I was for many years a willing contributor to this charity. In his teens, our son joined the RNLI youth supporters’ club called Storm Force, which gave him access to their open days and other special events. His mother and I were both keen for him to grow up with at least some male role models in a field where the concept of heroism was based on saving life rather than endangering it.
It’s always a shame when a once-noble and well-loved charity is taken over by political activists to become just another strand in the tightly-woven world of progressive politics. Apart from the asinine political correctness which has seen long-serving male volunteers disciplined by their feminised management for daring to exhibit evidence of lingering traces of testosterone in defiance of their now thoroughly oestrogenised environment, the charity has also turned itself into a free water-taxi service for illegal immigrants as they approach the British coast in their inadequate rubber dinghies, after they have been handed over by the French navy into the care of the RNLI and the Royal Navy.
These days all the big charities employ PR and advertising agencies to produce slick, persuasive material to maximise revenue from donors. The RNLI is no exception, as both the art direction and copywriting of its latest appeal amply demonstrate. It includes such priceless examples of evasive language as, ‘With more people predicted to visit our coasts, more people are expected to rely on RNLI lifesavers.’ Yes, it’s true. More and more people are ‘visiting our coasts’. Particularly the uninvited guests who give not a fig for the rules and regulations on international travel that the rest of us are expected to follow, under threat of arrest. Meanwhile, I’m sure that the people traffickers based in northern France will be pleased to read that the RNLI intends to be well-prepared to cope with the rush: the criminal gangs will probably be including that reassuring fact in their brochures.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, as far as the RNLI’s image consultants are concerned, the public face of their sea-rescue service is female. The poster girl for this campaign is named as Holly Jackson-Walters. The caption reads, ‘Help keep her safe as she faces her busiest time’. She is photographed in a South Coast lifeboat station next to a seagoing RIB-style lifeboat. She is dressed in the full ocean-rescue outfit, her crash helmet tucked purposefully under her arm. The picture is posed in a manner reminiscent of the pilot of a jet fighter. Holly displays a steely gaze as though she’s scanning the horizon for a ship in distress.
The second caption is presented as a quote, implied as being from Holly herself, ‘Your support could help us save the next life at sea’. All skilfully staged by people who clearly know what they are doing.
Holly is actually a volunteer crew member at the recently opened Chiswick lifeboat station on the Thames in suburban London. It is located in the Pier House, the headquarters for Chiswick Pier Canoe Club. But she sure does look the part, so I guess that’s what matters most in a world of spin and PR.