A former soldier from Rye is on a mission to help young people stay safe in the sea.
Hazel Fulker is the woman behind the Camber Sands Rookie Beach Club, which aims to teach youngsters vital water safety skills.
Seven people died in two incidents at the popular beach last summer and Hazel hopes that by educating people about the sea, future tragedies can be prevented.
Hazel is an RNLI education officer and set up a triathlon club in Camber where she helps prepare participants by teaching them how to swim safely in open water.
Hazel said: “The idea of the Rookie School is to get young people to come along and learn to swim and learn all the skills so they can filter it through to their friends.
“It’s important not just to teach them to swim, but swim safely in open water and understand the beach and the sea.”
The beach school had a low-key launch last summer.
Funded by Hazel, the school was supported by the RNLI and Parkdean Resort, where Hazel runs a popular swimming school.
The beach club is aimed at children and young people aged from eight upwards and Hazel is keen to make the club accessible to everyone, including those living in the inner cities who have limited experience of the sea.
She said: “I want everyone to come.
“I don’t want it that people cannot afford to come.”
In order to make the club accessible to as many as possible, Hazel is seeking sponsorship from local firms and donations to help bring the beach club to the masses.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has backed Hazel’s endeavours and tomorrow (Saturday) four firefighters from Hastings and Battle will take part in a 20-mile sponsored kayak from Bodiam Castle to Camber Sands to raise funds for the club.
Hazel said: “I am so grateful to East Sussex Fire and Rescue for doing this kayak.
“It will really help me to get the club up and running and move forward.”
She added: “The bottom line is it’s about making people water safe and enjoying the sea.
“We do not want everyone so scared they won’t go in.”
The club will start at the end of May, with workshop days planned.
For details, or if your company is interested in sponsorship, email Hazel at email@example.com
To donate to the sponsored kayak, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ESFRS.