As Christmas approaches, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is urging people to take care as statistics show lifeboats will launch over 100 times during the festive period* to help those in need.
Figures over the last 10 years for the festive period show that RNLI lifeboats will launch on average 111 times, and aid 55 people back to safety with many volunteers having their festive celebrations interrupted.
Andy Doe, RNLI Hastings Coxswain said: ‘This Christmas, many RNLI lifesavers will put their celebrations with family members on hold if the pager sounds. Our lifeboats launch in freezing temperatures and blizzards, to storm force winds and rain with volunteers on many of our crews risking their own lives to save others.
‘I’ll be spending Christmas Day with my wife and three children, unless the pager beeps and we have to launch the lifeboat. They are very used to me being on call and all they want is for me to come home safe after each rescue.’
As the year draws to a close, the RNLI has released a special video featuring five of the most dramatic rescues of 2020, highlighting the incredibly challenging conditions that its lifesavers have braved to save others.
Dramatic footage shows Hastings RNLI lifeboat almost capsizing after launching to a surfer in trouble during the very violent Storm Ciara in February this year. Andy Doe was on board at the time and although he and his colleagues on the crew would launch again today in the same circumstances, the video is a good reminder of how the charity’s lifesavers put their lives on the line to save others.
Around the UK and Ireland, many volunteer crews have battled horrendous weather this year. Most recently, three lifeboats from Dunmore East, Kilmore Quay and Rosslare Harbour faced strong winds and breaking seas as they battled for hours to save a 4,000-tonne coaster and nine crew from being washed onto the rocks.
Also featured in the newly released video are the volunteers from Porthcawl RNLI as they rescue a surfer in huge breaking waves who had been swept out in a rip current. The video also sees crews from Oban in Scotland face biting winds during Storm Ciara as they were called to a group of divers reported to be in difficulty and in Northern Ireland, local people captured video of Portrush RNLI when their all-weather lifeboat launched in stormy seas to rescue a surfer, with a lifeboat crew member jumping in to save the young man.
Jayne George, RNLI Fundraising Director, says: ‘The most challenging weather of the winter is likely still to come and our lifesavers are ready to face it. This Christmas, our dedicated volunteers are prepared to leave their loved ones at a moment’s notice to save complete strangers.’
RNLI crews have continued to save lives during the pandemic and faced a busy summer as lockdown restrictions were eased. The charity has purchased £1.2M worth of coronavirus PPE to keep their lifesavers and the public safe. This was money the charity hadn’t planned to spend, at a time when RNLI shops were forced to close and fundraising events were cancelled.
Jayne continues, ‘As a charity, our RNLI lifesavers rely on the support of the public so they can continue to save lives. Our fundraising has taken a huge hit this year, so please support our Christmas Appeal to ensure we can keep on saving lives. To donate visit RNLI.org/Xmas.’
If you’d like to specifically support Porthcawl RNLI please donate to our festive fundraiser and help us reach our target. 100% of your donation will stay right here in Porthcawl. To donate visit: https://www.facebook.com/donate/328896291826037/
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Dave Riley, RNLI National Media Officer on 01202 336789 or David_Riley@rnli.org.uk or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.