Affectionately known as the 'wee guys', the LEGO Coastguard Team is now spreading the coastal safety message across social media.
Even as a child, volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officer, Kevin Paterson had a love for LEGO, and this, along with his passion for social media, inspired him to create The Coastguard Team, made up of his favourite little yellow toys.
Now, this unit of four centimetre tall ‘wee guys’ have a healthy following across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where they promote their coastal safety message to younger and older fans alike.
Paterson, who for the last seven years has been with the Ardrossan Coastguard Rescue Team in Ayshire, south west Scotland, says when he started the project in late 2014 he had no idea where it would go.
“It quickly gained a lot of support from around the country and has developed into what it is today. The team, affectionately known as the ‘wee guys’, has quite a significant following now and it continues to grow on a daily basis,” he says.
See the gallery of The Coastguard Team at work below
Paterson believes the team’s impact is “both positive and well received”. He says that during the recent severe storms, which battered many parts of the country, some of the safety messages “from the ‘wee guys’ were getting literally hundreds of retweets”.
Although the world’s smallest Coastguard Rescue Team is a personal project for Paterson, he has been fully supported by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, with assistance from its Southampton Press Office.
The ‘wee guys’ have also visited many real-life Coastguard Rescue Teams and Search and Rescue helicopter crews.
“A relatively new trend which has emerged is real-life Coastguards taking selfies with the ‘wee guys’ which is brilliant,” explains Paterson. “It’s now at the stage where individual teams are contacting us asking if it would be possible for the ‘wee guys’ to schedule a visit while out on their adventures around the country.”
Trips have also been paid to their RNLI LEGO counterparts, The Lifeboat Crew who promote the charity and its awareness work. The two teams met up last year in the Scottish town of Tignabruiach.
YBW.com wanted to know if there was rivalry between them.
“Just like in the real world, the ‘wee guys’ in The Coastguard Team and the ‘little guys’ in The Lifeboat Crew work closely together and get along great,” states Paterson. “The two teams have slightly different styles of how we approach things but we are both aiming towards the same goal of promoting coastal safety and the organisations being represented”.
Rumour has it that they will be meeting again sometime this summer.
Paterson explained that the safety message from The Coastguard Team depends on the time of the year and what’s happening in terms of real-world callouts around the country.
During the winter, the focus was on keeping away from exposed costal areas in rough weather, especially as the news “was full of videos and pictures of the public trying to get a closer look at the massive waves”.
Now the better weather is approaching the focus will be on the key water safety messages and general advice for staying safe when at the beach.
“The one key message which the ‘wee guys’ are promoting all year round is ensuring that people know to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard in a coastal, beach or cliff emergency,” stresses Paterson.
As well as photographs, small stop animation video clips are also being used to get the safety messages across.
Seaside Safety, a free downloadable digital comic featuring The Coastguard Team has also been launched just in time for the summer.
“It’s my hope that parents will sit down with their kids and go through each edition of Seaside Safety on their tablets or computers meaning everyone can learn from the content,” says Paterson.
So, what is next for The Coastguard Team?
“Holiday season is coming up so plans are well underway for the ‘wee guys’ to load up their LEGO campervan and get out around the country again to visit as many real-world Coastguard teams as possible,” states Paterson.
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