Princess Char­lene pa­tron of Life­sav­ing South Africa

Her foun­da­tion helps to raise R2m for 200 res­cue boards

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - STAFF RE­PORTER

HER Serene High­ness Princess Char­lene of Monaco might be Euro­pean roy­alty, but she hasn’t ne­glected her du­ties back home.

Fol­low­ing her pas­sion for swim­ming, she has be­come the am­bas­sador for a lo­cal anti-drown­ing or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Princess Char­lene of Monaco, who was for­merly Char­lene Witt­stock, was an­nounced as pa­tron to Life­sav­ing SA (LSA) in Dur­ban on Wed­nes­day.

The LSA aims to pro­mote wa­ter safety and sup­port “learn to swim” pro­jects in the coun­try.

Since 1913, the or­gan­i­sa­tion, which is the na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion for life­sav­ing, has saved more than 120 000 peo­ple from drown­ing.

It is now lead­ing the fight against drown­ing in South Africa, with more than 3 500 vol­un­teer life­guards pa­trolling var­i­ous aquatic venues on week­ends and pub­lic hol­i­days.

“It is a great hon­our for me to be named pa­tron of Life­sav­ing SA, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that shares the same vi­sion as my foun­da­tion and one that I have al­ways been in­spired by,” the princess said.

“Life­sav­ing SA’s com­mit­ment to drown­ing-pre­ven­tion is re­mark­able and the spirit of vol­un­teer­ing that you are in­still­ing in our young peo­ple is in­fec­tious,” she added.

Princess Char­lene is no stranger to the wa­ter, and as a pa­tron, has a lot to of­fer.

She was a pro­fes­sional swim­mer for many years, rep­re­sent­ing South Africa in the Syd­ney Olympics in 2000.

“Dur­ing those years, I learnt the im­por­tance of dis­ci­pline, team spirit, ded­i­ca­tion and re­spect for the wa­ter, one­self and others; val­ues that I know LSA life­guards ap­pre­ci­ate and demon­strate ev­ery day,” she said.

She es­tab­lished her own wa­ter-safety pro­gramme, The Princess Char­lene of Monaco Foun­da­tion, in 2012.

Since then, it has reached more than 300 000 peo­ple world­wide, with op­er­a­tions be­ing es­tab­lished here in South Africa in 2013.

The work of the foun­da­tion is in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­knowl­edged and cel­e­brated for rais­ing pub­lic aware­ness about the dan­gers of wa­ter, teach­ing chil­dren es­sen­tial wa­ter-safety skills and how to swim.

Last year, the Princess Char­lene of Monaco Foun­da­tion SA taught 2 507 chil­dren to swim and 27 242 chil­dren es­sen­tial wa­ter-safety skills through 23 pro­jects in her home coun­try.

Life­sav­ing SA aims to pro­vide sim­i­lar ed­u­ca­tion about wa­ter safety, it said.

The Wa­ter Smart Pro­gramme is a class­room-based ed­u­ca­tional wa­ter-safety pro­gramme de­vel­oped to com­ple­ment the cur­rent Grade 4 Life Skills cur­ricu­lum.

The pro­gramme, pre­sented by Life­sav­ing SA wa­ter-smart fa­cil­i­ta­tors, will be de­liv­ered free of charge to more than 80 schools na­tion­wide dur­ing the course of 2017.

Pres­i­dent of The Princess Char­lene of Monaco Foun­da­tion SA, Gavin Vare­jes, also an­nounced at the event that 200 res­cue boards, val­ued at R2 mil­lion, would be dis­trib­uted to Life­sav­ing SA.

The do­na­tion, which was also made in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Cell C and Rich­mark Hold­ings, will see ev­ery LSA-af­fil­i­ated life­sav­ing club in South Africa re­ceiv­ing res­cue boards to con­tinue their cru­cial ser­vice to the com­mu­nity.

“The new part­ner­ship will hope­fully con­tinue to en­cour­age dif­fer­ent sport­ing codes to work to­gether and form bonds and strengthen part­ner­ships that make such a won­der­ful dif­fer­ence in our coun­try,” said Vare­jes.

Cell C was also thrilled to help out. “Cell C en­dorses this ini­tia­tive in grow­ing an aware­ness around wa­ter safety in South Africa and deems it a great priv­i­lege to be as­so­ci­ated with the Princess Char­lene of Monaco Foun­da­tion SA,” said Cell C’s head of mar­ket­ing, Doug Mattheus.

Mean­while, Life­sav­ing SA pres­i­dent Dy­lan Tommy and SA Sports Con­fed­er­a­tion and Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Gideon Sam also ex­pressed their grat­i­tude to Princess Char­lene and Vare­jes for their con­tri­bu­tion to rais­ing the pro­file of life­sav­ing in South Africa, both on a so­cial level and as a sport.

“We are ex­tremely grate­ful to Princess Char­lene for agree­ing to serve as the pa­tron for Life­sav­ing SA.

“With the princess as our pa­tron and the part­ner­ship we have es­tab­lished with the Princess Char­lene of Monaco Foun­da­tion SA, we will be able to achieve far greater suc­cess in our fight to curb drown­ing in South Africa,” Tommy pointed out.

Sam also com­mended the princess for giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity and de­scribed her as “an in­spi­ra­tion to the global com­mu­nity, and a par­tic­u­larly spe­cial South African”.

“It was noted that the princess gives so much to the coun­try she grew up in, but also so im­por­tantly to the se­ri­ous is­sue of wa­ter safety and wa­ter ed­u­ca­tion.”

With wa­ter safety be­ing an im­por­tant is­sue in South Africa, cor­po­rates have con­sis­tently been urged to sup­port the cause.

Con­ti­nen­tal Tyre SA has also heeded the call this year by com­mit­ting to a three-year in­vest­ment and spon­sor­ship of Life­sav­ing SA.

“You can’t put a price on sav­ing a life and it’s fan­tas­tic to see the in­vest­ment in life­sav­ing as a re­sult of the part­ner­ship with the princess,” its prod­uct com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager Ryan Vis­agie said.

2 507 kids taught to swim in 2016, 27 242 learnt wa­ter safety

MAK­ING A DIF­FER­ENCE: Gareth Witt­stock (left) with Dy­lan Tommy and Princess Char­lene of Monaco (pic­tured right).

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