We need Prince William. Or someone just as erudite, committed, decent and powerful (like the Duchess of Cambridge). Prince William sat down with CNN this week to talk about becoming a father. The first thing that caught my eye was the emblem on his shirt (that would be ‘product placement’) for Tusk Trust. Prince William not only has a strong history of supporting Tusk Trust as a Patron, he used the interview to convey, in a few deft sentences, that the next three Kings of Great Britain supported wildlife conservation. (That would be ‘skillful use of power and influence to push his own agenda’, because I guarantee it was a condition for the interview).
I’ve talked about the need for the drowning prevention field to develop relationships with high-profile patrons and ambassadors before, and I’ve explained the reasons we need such relationships. Matt Damon – his dedication to clean water has translated into a higher profile for the issue. Heidi Klum – how a dramatic rescue could have been turned into a positive public awareness campaign. And, of course, Prince William – an accomplished RAF Helicopter Rescue Pilot, so an ideal spokesperson for drowning prevention.
What I haven’t discussed is the quality of the patronage. We mustn’t just go chasing after any C-level reality show star who is desperate to see their name in lights, and I’d avoid anyone who is trying to polish their image after a questionable water incident. A good rule of thumb, if they are constantly begging to be interviewed by the gossip mags, no thank you. (that rules out the Kardashians, all reality TV stars, anyone who spends more time in rehab than they do working, or the many who feel the need to share every thought in their generally vacuous brain with the entire world).
Integrity. Strong Values. Possession of a Moral Compass. Those should be the main qualities associated with anyone who is willing to put their voice and reputation behind the issue of child drowning. At the end of the day, we are talking about the welfare of the world’s children, an issue that is responsible for one out of four deaths in childhood, after infancy. Our children, all of our children, deserve to be protected and deserve to have someone representing their welfare that is a positive role model not just for adults, but for the children they are trying to help.
Now we just have to get that person on board.