Lifeboat crew members from 11 countries took part in the IMRF's third annual international crew exchange this autumn.

With the overall aim of exchanging knowledge, sharing ideas and building relationships between the voluntary institutions participating, the programme has four clear objectives.

The first is to exchange practical experience and best practice to support improvement.

The event also helps personal development, allowing volunteers to acquire new skills, and serves as a means of transnational and trans-organisational communication.

The fourth objective is improved knowledge of maritime English.

The programme is organised by Linde Jelsma of the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM) and is supported by the Lifelong Learning Programme of the European Union. Linde says: "It was a great pleasure to work with the national programme coordinators, who take their job very seriously. In all countries we created an interactive week with lots of new experiences and we were able to exchange cultures and extend personal boundaries. All 63 participants will go back and pass on their experiences to their local crews."

The participants and host organisations were the Danish Coastal Rescue Service (DaMSA), the Finnish Lifeboat Institute, the UK and Ireland's Royal National Lifeboat Institution, the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS), the Swedish Sea Rescue Society, the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, the Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR) and the KNRM.

A crew member from France, two guests from Canada and five crew from Estonia also took part. The skills and experience gained will help save more lives.