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Icom Sponsors St Dunstan's Powerboat & VHF Training

Icom Sponsors St Dunstan's Powerboat & VHF Training

Icom are pleased to announce a sponsorship package for St Dunstan's, the charity that provides lifelong care for blinded ex-Service men and women. The sponsorship package is going towards VHF radio training and Powerboat Level 2 training for the charity's staff and team of volunteers for its RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) Ad Astra. It is hoped that the training will eventually provide blinded ex-serviceman the opportunity to improve their confidence by piloting the boat Ad Astra. The RIB is being used as part of St Dunstan's activities program at the national training centre in Ovingdean, Brighton.

This is not the first time Icom have supported St Dunstan's. Last year Icom supplied Ad Astra with a fixed waterproof radio communication system featuring the IC-M503 VHF transceiver together with its optional 'Class D' DSC controller, DS-100.

This year the company has supported the charity by supplying hire radios for some of its fundraising events such as the Army versus St Dunstan's Rugby match. More recently at Ribex, the show dedicated solely to Rigid Inflatable and Inflatable Boats, it donated half of its stand and sponsored the Mark Threadgold challenge RIB display to raise awareness for the charity. The sponsorship is going towards VHF/DSC training and Powerboat Level 2 training. Several groups will learn to use Marine VHF radios that enable ship to ship or shore conversations or broadcast messages such as distress calls. Learning the rules and procedures for radio use is vital in order to be able to share the sea safely with other vessels as well as providing support in case any problems arise.

Powerboat Level 2 training teaches students powerboat skills at a basic level. The course includes launching, mooring, anchoring and recovery plus all the boat driving skills required for basic competence in a powerboat. It is hoped that learning these skills will provide all the volunteers with the confidence and competence to drive Ad Astra. Nick Ward, Director of Fundraising & Communications for St Dunstan's said, '12 St Dunstan's staff members have already donated their time to be trained to man the RIB. Training sessions have taking place at the RYA Shoreham-by-Sea as well as Ovindean. The volunteers will be help the Sports and Recreation department to take St Dunstaners out and give them a chance to take control of a powerboat - a great achievement for anyone not only those who are blind!'

He added, 'We have identified two stages of training. The first is to ensure that the Sports and Recreation Department and the St Dunstan's staff and volunteers are fully competent and equipped to manage the RIB. The second stage is to train the St Dunstaners to a similar level of competence. Once the Powerboat level 2 certificate the St Dunstaners will be given a level of endorsement which means that they have to have sighted coxman with them at all times.

Nick Ward said, 'One of the most exciting things for us is that the work of St Dunstan's is recognised by important companies like Icom and by the public at large. It is important for us to let the world know about the service and support that we provide St Dunstaners as well making the general public aware of both the ordinary and extraordinary achievements that the blind and visually impaired community can achieve.'

Nick said, 'The sponsorship that Icom have provided will enable the St Dunstaners to achieve 3 levels of experience. The first level is to get the St Dunstaners used to being out on the water and to give them a brief go at the helm - a significant step demonstrating that nothing is impossible. Level 2 encompasses more sophisticated training so that a blind or visually impaired individual can undertake longer trips at sea. The third level is the level that St Dunstaner Mark Threadgold has reached in which training will be provided for St Dunstaners for long distance travel as well as the use of audio compasses - this will ultimately enable participation in events such as the Bilbao convoy trip to the Scillies.'

One well-known St Dunstaner is Mark Threadgold. Mark has years of experience handling boats when he was sighted and he found that he was able to put his boat experience to good use following his sight-loss in 2000 - successfully notching up two water records in the space of two years including the World Water Speed Record in the Blind unlimited class. Commenting on how these challenges have helped him, Mark said, 'It has proved that nothing is impossible. We all need a little help and guidance at times but ultimately there is so much a person can achieve. It has been a huge confidence builder for me.'

Ian Lockyer, Marketing Manager at Icom UK said, 'We are extremely pleased to support St. Dunstan's and the fantastic work it does in helping the rehabilitation of blinded ex-servicemen and women. One of the eventual goals of this project is to get the St Dunstaners out to sea, driving Ad Astra, which will do wonders for their confidence. The only way you can do this is with good support, excellent teamwork and more importantly superb communication...those virtues are what the Icom brand stand for.'

Icom UK Marketing -


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