Walmer RNLI’s car wash fundraiser turns into a rescue mission

Lifeboats News Release

Crowds gathered to have their cars washed as part of Walmer lifeboat station’s Mayday fundraiser thought they were watching an exercise when RNLI volunteer crew suddenly downed their sponges and headed to the lifeboat.

Walmer's volunteer crew rescue the kayaker from his capsized craft.


Walmer's volunteer crew rescue the kayaker from his capsized craft.

But the shout, just after 1pm on Saturday (30 April) was a real one, as the UK Coastguard requested the volunteer crew to launch to help a kayaker in difficulty. Walmer’s relief Atlantic 85 lifeboat, which had been on display to the public on the beach, was launched immediately with helm Lee Waddon and fellow crew members Nicola Goodban and James Foster.

On reaching the casualty they found that he had been fishing from his kayak when it had overturned and he’d got a large fishing hook embedded in his finger and was suffering from the cold. The crew brought him to safety and gave him oxygen and warmed him up with blankets before handing him over to paramedics. He was then taken to hospital to have the hook removed. The kayaker visited the lifeboat station the following day to thank the crew for his rescue.

“No-one could believe it – it was an immediate launch to a person in the water,” said Walmer Lifeboat Operations Manager Denis Brophy. “It created a bit of a tailback at the car wash while we carried out the rescue, but people could really see what we do. It made them all appreciate what the car wash was for. It looked like we’d planned it, but we hadn’t!”

“A duty crew was on-hand to carry on with the carwash but the people who had gathered to have their cars washed actually thought that the call was possibly a training demonstration to illustrate just how important lifeboats are!” Denis added. “The crew assured them it wasn’t but the onlookers seemed really impressed to see a real call.”

In fact they were so impressed that the lifeboat station chalked up a fundraising record with £1312 being raised from washing 130 cars, the most that has been raised in the four years since the Walmer event began. Some people even popping £10 notes into the collection buckets, even though they weren’t actually having their cars washed!

The RNLI’s Mayday campaign runs throughout May and aims to raise £750,000 to fund lifesaving kit for the charity’s brave volunteer crews. A crew member’s yellow wellies cost £54 a pair, a lifejacket costs £458 and a safety helmet costs £263.

Media Contacts:

Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252 tim_ash@rnli.org.uk

  • Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207416, 07786 668825 paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk

  • For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
  • RNLI

    Walmer RNLI's charity car wash was interrupted by a rescue mission.

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    The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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