RNLI crews being sprayed by the sea on the deck of the lifeboat

What is Mayday?

Mayday is the RNLI’s annual fundraiser that raises money for vital crew kit. Get involved and help keep our crews safe this Mayday!
Swanage RNLI crew members running along the harbour

RNLI/Nathan Williams

Why kit matters

When our brave volunteer crews answer the call for help, they don’t know what they’ll be facing. Huge waves, storms, darkness … They need to be prepared for anything. Having the right kit can make the difference between life and death – for them and the people they rescue.

Our £750,000 target could buy all of this:

117 full all-weather crew kits

3,476 pairs of wellies

410 lifejackets

7,502 pairs of gloves

A still from a video showing Blackpool crew members capsized

If it wasn’t for the helmet, I wouldn’t be here

It was a normal call out for Blackpool volunteers Simon, Kyle and Daz – until a rogue wave capsized their lifeboat.

They’d received a call from the Coastguard after someone reported hearing shouts from the water. Fighting force 7 winds and 2–3m swells, they powered to the scene – until a rogue wave capsized the lifeboat.

Simon says: ‘Our boat did a back flip, bow over stern. Kyle and I had been at the front so we were thrown out and up into the air.’

‘We went up like a kite,’ agrees Kyle. ‘I could feel the lifeboat flutter like a mattress on the air. It felt like we were falling for a long time and then under water for at least a minute – but it was only a few seconds.

‘I took out a flare to let the other lifeboat know we needed them. A big wave came and swamped us as I took it out, but it worked perfectly despite being underwater.

‘Next I made my way to the lifeboat, but a breaking wave pushed the boat into me and nearly knocked me out. If it wasn’t for the helmet, I wouldn’t be here.’

It was too dangerous to right the boat, so Simon pulled Kyle away. Simon adds: ‘Our lifejackets are inherently buoyant so we were kept afloat. I held on to the grab handle at the back of Kyle’s lifejacket and didn’t let go.

‘Going through the pier was not the nicest thing. Good job we had the helmets – we kept hitting the tops of our heads on the metal bars. They saved us from serious injury.’

Alerted by Kyle’s flare, Blackpool’s second D class lifeboat was at the ready to pick them up on the other side of the pier. Simon, Daz and Kyle were all back out on the water a week later. And the stranger they were originally called out to help? A false alarm with good intent.

Kitting out an inshore crew member like Kyle costs £1,836 – including the helmet that he says saved his life. This Mayday, will you help raise money for the lifesaving kit our crews depend upon?

Our crews are always ready to answer the call for help. Will you answer theirs today with an online donation?

Donate now