Why Heather’s swapping turkey for tills on Christmas Day
On Christmas Day, many of us will be enjoying festive fun and food with our families before sinking into our sofas for a well-earned rest, paper crowns still perched on our heads. But for RNLI people like Shop Volunteer Heather Jones and Lifeguard Liam Crosbie, Christmas will look a little different.
The RNLI’s lifesaving service is always running, and Christmas Day is no exception. Lifeboat volunteers are on call, knowing their pagers could go off at any moment. Shore crew volunteers are at the ready, willing to jump into their launch vehicle and get the lifeboats out to sea. So, for RNLI Shop Volunteer Heather, it only feels right to open the shop in Bude too.
‘We’re open every day of the year, including Christmas Day,’ says Heather, who has been an RNLI shop volunteer for 22 years. Her passion for volunteering comes from her father. ‘I’ve always tried to do some sort of voluntary work. My father was a great one for helping others, so I’ve tried to follow in his footsteps.’
This will be Heather’s ninth Christmas Day volunteering at the RNLI shop. ‘I don’t have any family nearby, and one Christmas Day I just stayed at home in my pyjamas. But it wasn’t very satisfying,’ she recalls. ‘Next time, I decided to go for a walk. I didn’t want to just go for a walk for walking’s sake, though. So I thought: “I may as well walk to the shop and open up.” And that’s how it started!’
This year, Heather is opening the shop alongside fellow volunteer Andrew Barnard – it’ll be his fifth Christmas Day there. Heather says: ‘Now I'm spending the day with a friend and helping to raise money for charity at the same time. It's a nice atmosphere in the shop on Christmas Day. Plenty of people pop in and everyone is in a good mood, so it makes the day enjoyable.
‘The money we raise here in the shop helps provide the lifeboat volunteers with the equipment and training they need to launch to the rescue. They put their own lives at risk to save others. By visiting an RNLI shop, you can help back them up.’
Lifesaving Christmas plans
The Bude shop volunteers aren’t the only RNLI people with lifesaving Christmas plans. At Crosby Beach, part of the Merseyside coastline, Liam and his fellow RNLI lifeguards are swapping Christmas morning present-opening for beach patrols.
‘Crosby Beach is quite unique,’ Liam explains. ‘The stretch we cover is 3 miles long. It has mud patches that move throughout the year, so it’s easy for people to get stuck knee-deep, or even waist-deep, in mud. There are also fast-moving tides, so people can get cut off. That’s why it’s so important that we’re here every day of the year – to help prevent people getting into difficulty, and to rescue them if they do.’
The hazards at the beach don’t take a day off on Christmas Day
Just like in Bude, a festive beach walk is popular among the locals at Crosby. ‘On Christmas Day, it gets pretty busy here,’ says Liam. ‘A lot of people like to get together and come down before or after their roast dinners. Families often come with kids, so they can try out their new bikes.
‘People are often surprised to see us working. A lot of them come over to have a chat with us. We even have a few regulars who come and bring us mince pies, coffees, and hot chocolates. So, if you’re working on the day, it’s not a bad thing at all. The only thing it’s bad for is your waistline!’
You’re part of our crew too
RNLI lifesavers like Liam can only save lives thanks to the generosity of people like you. If you can, please help give them all they need to rescue people in difficulty this Christmas with a kind donation. They are so grateful, especially now, when times are tough and money is tight.
‘Without people like you, we wouldn’t be able to run our lifesaving service here at Crosby Beach. It all starts with you,’ says Liam. ‘I’m really thankful. And all the people we’ve helped and rescued over the years, I’m sure they are too.’