NEW lifejackets to help save hundreds of lives have been handed over to Sunderland RNLI.
Lifeboat volunteers have been given a much-needed cash windfall to buy the jackets courtesy of a Wearside supermarket.
Sunderland RNLI has been presented with a cheque for £2,500 by management and staff at Sainsbury’s in Silksworth, Sunderland.
It is the latest in a series of donations after it was named the outlet’s “charity partner”, already receiving £10,000 in the past two years.
Store manager Gary Pearson said dedicated employees, supported by customers, had organised a range of fund-raising activities.
“It has been a pleasure working with the RNLI over the past two years,” he said. “Our customers and colleagues have raised a staggering £12,500 from events throughout the store.
“Many thanks go to all those who contributed to this worthy cause.”
The funds have be used to offset the purchase of new lifejackets, which are now being used by the charity.
They have been designed by the RNLI and manufacturer Crewsaver specifically to meet the charity’s search-and-rescue requirements.
Paul Nicholson, senior helmsman at Sunderland RNLI, said the lifejackets are a far cry from the original cork ones invented in 1854.
“There are two designs of lifejacket, one to be worn on all-weather lifeboats and the other on inshore lifeboats,” he said. “Both provide a comfortable, secure fit, leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness in lifesaving.
“Crotch straps prevent the lifejacket riding up over the head when in the water and an integrated harness, designed to pull the lifejacket away from the wearer’s neck, allows greater freedom of movement during rescues.
“The lifejacket has zipped pockets for casualty care kit, torches, gloves or knives, and a spray hood to protect against sea spray.”
Mr Nicholson also paid tribute to those who supported the drive at Sainsbury’s.
“Everyone at Sunderland RNLI lifeboat station is extremely grateful for the fantastic support we have received from the staff and customers of Sainsbury’s during the past two years,” he said.
“The new lifejackets are far easier to adjust and fit and the additional support from the harness takes a lot of the weight off the crew’s neck and shoulders.
“The jackets are lighter, less bulky and easier to work in.
“Lifejackets are essential pieces of kit for all our volunteers and the new design will definitely make a difference to our safety and our comfort.”