An American surfer rescued off the Welsh coast, who says he is lucky to be alive to celebrate the festivities, is urging the people of Wales to support the RNLI’s Christmas appeal. The fundraising drive has been launched as the charity reveals it has lost millions in income as fundraising activities had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

Surfer Jack Lyons, 18, became trapped beneath a cliff in heavy surf, after being swept away by a rip current close to Porthcawl. He was plucked to safety in a dramatic rescue by the Porthcawl RNLI crew. This year he will be celebrating Christmas at home with his family in New York but says things could have been very different. At a time of reflection, he has sent a message of thanks to his rescuers for saving his life. Jack says:

‘I’m an experienced surfer, but things changed very quickly. I suddenly realised how much danger I was actually in. I just couldn’t fight the current and could feel myself being pulled under. Seeing the lifeboat coming towards me is a sight I’ll never forget. I am eternally grateful to the crew of Porthcawl. I’m still in touch with them and will always remember what they did for me.

‘At this time of year, more than ever, when family is so important, I will be reflecting on how things could have been very different. Due to the pandemic, this festive period for many will be different, but my family could have been facing a very different Christmas without me.

‘I am aware it has been a difficult time for the RNLI and that’s why I would urge people to get behind their Christmas appeal and give what they can to support these fantastic crews, who put themselves in danger to help others.’

The lifesaving charity had to spend £1.2M this year to ensure its volunteer lifeboat crews and beach lifeguards had the vital PPE, such as face masks and gloves, to keep our lifesavers 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.

Events across Wales such as raft races, open days and festive dips have had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus restrictions. In addition, volunteer-run RNLI shops been closed for the majority of the year.

Fundraisers have been thinking up innovative ways to continue supporting the RNLI crews in line with government guidance. The charity’s annual Reindeer Runs which see herds of supporters donning antlers and taking on a fun festive run has been adapted this year. The charity is calling on people to run the event virtually on Saturday 12 or Sunday 13 December and donate to the RNLI. More information is available here

To help us brave a wave we never expected visit: Porthcawl RNLI Lifesavers’ Fund. (All donations made will be used towards the costs of #SavingLivesAtSea at Porthcawl).