David "Blondie" Fielding, Chairman of Keynsham Life Saving Club was one of the first of our followers to dive on the idea of hosting a mini-LMFF as a fund-raiser for the Club. We have to admit we knew these community events were a good idea, but it's especially rewarding and exciting to see projects such as this one take off.
We spoke to David about his plans and his Club - interview below.
Q: What made you go for the LMFF Community Pass?
I watch the festival every year and I really enjoy the films - they're so inspiring! When I saw that LMFF were offering community screenings I thought it was a great way to raise money for my life saving club. The money will help us bring essential first-aid and water-safety skills to more people than ever before. People coming on the night will get to learn a bit about our club and then settle down for the films - should be fun! Raising money, building awareness of our club, and enjoying some brilliant films: what could be better?
Q: What sort of films do you plan to screen?
LMFF always has some good swimming or water-sports films so no doubt we will select some of these, but we will also throw in a few other films I'm sure. We are lucky to have access to an amazing community centre right next door to our pool so we can accommodate 120 people - we're planning to open our event up to the local community and I'm sure the screening will be very popular.
Q: What is the background to the Keynsham Club?
I was a keen swimmer when I was younger but found doing lengths all day could get a bit boring! In the end I joined a life-saving club in Weymouth and this changed everything. Suddenly the activities were much more fun and I was learning these important skills at the same time. I joined the lifesaving club at Southampton Uni and that's where I started to compete in lifesaving competitions. When I graduated I moved to Bristol and my closest life saving club was in Keynsham. When I joined KLSC, I discovered that the club was days away from folding - so I joined the committee, advertised for new members, and since then we've gone from strength to strength. We now regularly compete at lifesaving competitions, and run our own open water training sessions in the local river!
Q: Is the growth in popularity of swimming and other water-sports a problem for safety?
It is true that if there are more people taking to the water it can raise risk levels and there are currently around 400 deaths a year in the UK from drowning. Most people are surprised to learn that most of these are inland, not coastal, and also that most of them are people who have fallen in rather than chosen to be in the water. But those who regularly swim are most likely to be available when someone is in trouble, and often that can be just a few feet from the shore, or even on the water's edge helping to recover someone. What matters isn't so much how many people are in the water, but how many of those people can save the lives of others. The Royal Life Saving Society (the UK's drowning prevention charity) works to educate people so they can enjoy water safely.
Q: So who are your members?
Most of our members are aged 8-18. They join us for a variety of reasons: some want to improve their swimming (or, like me, because they enjoy swimming but got bored of swimming lengths), other want to use lifesaving for their Duke of Edinburgh award. We offer a range of Royal Life Saving Society awards, including their Rookie Lifeguard Programme, and many of our members enjoy collecting the badges and certificates. Whatever their reason for joining in the first place, our members stick around because lifesaving is great fun! Life-saving skills build confidence in young people and it is great to see that in action. I hope this film night will be a hook to bring some new people in as well as raising valuable funds for the club.
Check out the KLSC website for more information and valuable life-saving downloads.