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RNLI beach lifeguard unit vandalised at Whiterocks

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI beach lifeguard unit at Whiterocks on the Causeway Coast has been vandalised overnight with an estimated £800 worth of damage.

Following two of the busiest days of the summer season so far, which has seen upwards of 50,000 people enjoy the hot weather on lifeguarded beaches in Northern Ireland, the RNLI team at Whiterocks arrived at work this morning (Wednesday 19 July) to see that their unit, located near the entrance to the beach, had been extensively damaged.

On further investigation, the charity’s lifeguards discovered that the vandals had left behind broken bottles and a barbecue and the unit’s aerial mount required for VHF communications had been damaged. A large rock which had been thrown at the hut damaged the unit’s outer skin, piercing the inner plywood and leaving a two inch hole in the unit. The unit had also been covered with indecent graffiti.

RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Karl O’Neill said the damage to the aerial mount had threatened vital VHF communications while the rock damage meant the unit was no longer watertight.

‘Our lifeguards rely on the aerial to communicate with each other when on patrol and to communicate with their colleagues in the Coastguard in the event of an emergency. Thankfully the damage has not rendered our communications off-service but should it have and should it have happened during the last two days which brought thousands of people to our beaches to enjoy the good weather, lives could have been put at risk.

‘It is very disappointing for our lifeguards who have been working hard to keep people safe to turn up this morning after two busy days and see the unit they need to carry out their job has been so badly damaged, it really does dampen spirits.’

It is estimated that the repairs to the beach lifeguard unit will run into hundreds of pounds for the charity.

The RNLI is working closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland who has appealed for anyone with any information to come forward.

‘We would appeal to those doing this damage to be mindful that the RNLI is a charity’, Karl continued. ‘Our lifeguards are an essential part of what is a seamless rescue service that saves lives from the beach to the open sea. Our lifeguards’ primary role at Whiterocks and on all lifeguarded beaches on the Causeway Coast is to make sure the beach can be enjoyed safely by the public. We want them to be able to continue to do that safely and with peace of mind.’

Ends

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Nuala McAloon, RNLI Press Officer on 0876483547, email Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Ireland on 00 353 87 1254 124, email Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland