'Swimming For The Life Savers', By Jonathan Knott, British Ambassador To Hungary

  • 27 Jun 2013 11:43 AM
'Swimming For The Life Savers', By Jonathan Knott, British Ambassador To Hungary
I’ve long been a supporter of British lifesavers. Ever since I briefly was a lifesaver myself as a student holiday job. And recently I’ve become a trustee of the Lifeboat Fund in the UK. So I’ve been looking for a chance to pick up that cause now that I’m here in Hungary. I’m very pleased to say I’ve found it.

I’ve got to know the Hungarian Lifesavers’ organisation (Vízimentők Magyarországi Szakszolgálata) this year. I’ve visited their HQ at Balaton, have met their volunteers and have even taken part in a rescue they’ve done. They’re a really inspirational team. But I’ve also come to know the limitations they face in trying to keep Balaton safe for swimmers and those who enjoy water sports there. Among them financial.

It’s an expensive business to run what is effectively an emergency service, and they rely (like the RNLI) on donations to cover their costs. I’m discussing with their president, and now my friend, Sandor Bagyó, how I can help given my experience in raising funds and running a similar charity. In particular, I’m keen to have the Hungarian and British lifesavers establish some sort of a relationship. Not sure how it’ll work, but I’m determined to do it.

I also wanted to do something very personal to help. So I’m now raising money jointly for the Hungarian Lifesavers and the RNLI (through the Lifeboat Fund). And rather than rattle a tin at Embassy events I’m doing that by looking for sponsorship for me to do the Cross-Balaton Swim (the “Átúszás”). This is absolutely not an official, British government thing: it’s just something I feel passionate about.

I’ve asked British and Hungarian friends to support me and have set up a separate bank account for donations, to ensure total transparency. An account to which no-one has access and which will automatically transfer funds to the two organisations at the end of the appeal. My thanks to friends at OTP for setting that up for me.

Training has been pretty hard. I hadn’t appreciated how wide Balaton is! But Eva Risztov, the Hungarian Olympic open-water swimming champion has given me a training regime which I’m (mostly) sticking to. And this weekend I completed a 2.5km swim in Balaton in an hour and one minute. I was pleased with the time and think it shows I’m on course. Here are a few pictures.

I hope you’ll feel moved and able to offer some support, however modest, to what I’m doing. If you can, the details of the account to send a donation to are as follows: OTP Bank 11705008-20500959-00000000. And if you’re wavering, please just think of those family and friends who swim or go sailing on the Balaton or around the UK and the people they rely on for their safety.

Source: British Embassy Budapest

Related article:

Cross-Balaton Swim In Hungary 2013

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