Unsung heroes: Vincent Rafter
Vincent was part of the team that set up Lough Ree Lifeboat Station in 2012 – and his involvement with the RNLI goes back even further.
What’s your role at Lough Ree?
I’m Treasurer and Fundraising Treasurer. One is paying money out, the other’s collecting it. I’m also treasurer of the local yacht club – the second oldest yacht club in the world, going back to 1770. Although I wasn’t there then!
How did you come to volunteer for the RNLI?
I grew up by the sea and later moved to Athlone and the lake. Then I met Sean Fitzsimons of Sean’s Bar. For many years he and I held an annual flag day, generally in the rain in February, collecting for the RNLI.
Are there difficulties collecting for the RNLI inland?
Yes and no. People used to ask why they needed a lifeboat when they lived in the centre of Ireland. I’d reply: “Do you travel? Who collects you if the plane or the ferry goes down?” That sobered them up! Then, when we got a lifeboat on the lake, collecting got easier. Coastal communities realise the water’s dangers more, and they get a slightly better response for collections, but we’ll get there.
What fundraising activities do you do?
We host a cycle around the lake in spring for about 80 cyclists. It’s around 85 kilometres. We hold other events too, like flag days and bag packs. Aldi had a great response to that this year. Dunnes Stores have been great too. It all helps.
What’s the best thing about volunteering with the RNLI?
You’re in one big family. And of course, you’re doing good. It’s nice giving something back.
There is a huge range of RNLI volunteer roles. Find the one for you.