‘Jump!’ It was quite a relief to be surrounded by so many emergency services when your Skegness Standard reporter ‘parachuted out of a plane’ with the British Army at the Carnival Week’s 999 Day event.
Several brave visitors before me seemed to survive the virtual reality experience with a smile, so what could there be to worry about, I asked myself?
Headset on, I was suddenly in an army briefing room being told what to expect. Then before I knew it I was in a line of army officers stepping onto a plane, taking my seat and waiting for the cabin door to open, revealing the ground hundreds of feet below me.
Within seconds of preparing to jump, the ground rushed towards me and before I knew it I had landed, looking down at my feet, as Lance Corporal Hilton had instructed me, so as not to feel sick.
This experience was one of a number being used by the army in a ‘This is Belonging’ recruitment exercise at the 999 Day in Tower Gardens - a new venue for it having previously been held in Pier Field before the sale to Premier Inn.
WO1 Malcolm Mooney, of the Royal Logistics Corps, said: “The Army provides people a
chance to belong to one of the most respected organisations in the world while enjoying the
opportunities and challenges that the diverse range of roles can offer, be that through a career in the Army Reserves or Regular Army.
“Local people have had the opportunity to meet the soldiers and ask any questions they may have about Army life, and about the roles they carry out.”
Lincolnshire Police were among the other emergency services represented during the day, and for Chief Constable Bill Skelly and Stuart Tweedale, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, it was a chance to have a day at the seaside and engage with the public and local officers.
Sgt Kate Odlin said: “We’ve had a really busy day with lots for people to see about our work - as well as the opportunity to sit in a 4x4 used to fight rural crime and get property security marked.
“We’ve had virtual reality too with the Too Fast, Too Soon simulator targeting teenagers about the risks of driving too fast. And it was the chance to promote our new initiative - the Sandi Starfish meeting point on the beach - by handing out identity wrist bands for parents to give to children.”
Lots of children also took the opportunity to sit in the cab of a fire engine and have their picture taken. Community Fire Safety Advocate Joanne Lawley said: “It’s been a fantastic day.
“Not only has it been good to engage with the public, we’ve offered advice on fire safety in the home and raised money for charity.”
Carnival Committee volunteers were also thrilled with how the event went in the new location. Gary Starr, chairman, said: “It’s been fantastic to see so many of our emergency services and charities here today.
“It’s proving a really positive week for our volunteers. We’ve been well suppported by visitors, residents and local businesses.”
For details of the rest of the week’s events, visit www.skegnesscarnival.com.