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PCC helps to fund the return of Sandi the Starfish for summer safety

  • Published: 31-05-2018 at 08:05

A five-armed friend is back at Skegness beach this summer and two other tourist attractions are launching the initiative, lending an extra hand to families to help keep their children safe.

First launched in Norfolk in 2014, 'Sandi the Starfish' is a scheme that helps reunite parents and children if they become separated.  The idea came from PCSO Sandi Greenacre who was a member of the Hunstanton team before she sadly died in 2013. She had developed the idea of having a recognisable character on a flag as a meeting point for families.

The scheme was adopted in Lincolnshire last year by Sergeant Amy Searby who, having worked busy summer seasons in Skegness, knows only too well what a terrifying experience it can be for a family to lose sight of a child or vulnerable adult, even momentarily.

A large flag is displayed next to the RNLI lifeguard tower on the beach when it is staffed, which is a recognised point of safety for children to go to should they get lost or become disorientated. The meeting point can also be easily recognisable for vulnerable adults who come to enjoy the seaside with their carers.

This season the initiative has been adopted by Butlin’s and Fantasy Island and a host of local businesses are also supporting the scheme.  

The scheme also provides special 'Sandi the Starfish' wristbands for children to wear.  The wristbands have a space on which to write a parent's mobile phone number.  These are already available from RNLI crew/lifeguards, Skegness Aquariam, Natureland, Skegness Police Station, Skegness bus and train Station, Tourist Information at the Embassy Centre, and Meridian Leisure and now other businesses are making them available from their sites. 

These are members of the Skegness East Coast and Wolds Hospitality Association, Tesco, Natureland, Skegness Aquarium, Bibby’s Beach Bar and the Skegness Bus and Train Station.

The initiative has been funded by revenue generated from Proceeds of Crime activity and supplied by Marc Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner.

“I am delighted to support this fantastic initiative which offers extra security and peace of mind to families over the summer,” said PCC Marc Jones.

“The money I will be providing to buy the wristbands is a small price to pay for the extra protection it will provide for children and vulnerable adults.

“I would urge all families to take advantage of the scheme and while, of course, we hope they will never be needed any project which enables police officers to quickly unite lost loved ones with their families is to be applauded.”

Sgt Amy Searby said:

"It was fantastic to see this initiative work in Skegness last year and see the legacy of Sandi live on through helping families find those little ones who wander too far!

“In addition to families flocking to our fantastic beaches and summer attractions, this is also a time that carers bring vulnerable adults who are unfamiliar with the area and they too can become lost.

“Sandi the Starfish is an identifiable character for them too and I am delighted that more local businesses have pledged their support this season.

"We hope this will be a success for many years to come and that we can roll this out even further along the Lincolnshire coast.”

There has been a lot of interest from agencies that work with adults who have disabilities and Sandi Starfish is seen as a suitable scheme to roll out to events where there are a large concentration of people and they need a dedicated missing persons point or a safe space for vulnerable adults to go to.

Our top tips for a safe and happy day at the beach:

  • Designate a meeting spot and make sure the whole family knows to go there and wait if you are separated. A Sandi the Starfish flag is located on the sea front and is designed to be seen by children from a distance. Show your child the picture of Sandi so they know what to look for.
  • Tell your child that if they get separated from you, they should go to the flag where they can wait for you or ideally approach someone in uniform, and tell them they are lost.
  • Use a Sandi the Starfish wristband. Write your phone number on the inside of the wristband so you can be contacted if your child is found.
  • Keep an up-to-date photo of them on your phone to show to officers so they know who they are looking for. Ideally take on a phone or a digital camera when you arrive at the beach to show exactly what they are wearing. It's vital to remember what they are wearing! Bright, eye catching clothing is ideal.

Any local business wishing to participate in the scheme can contact Sgt Searby by calling 101.