RNLI Volunteers Ready to Face a Perfect Storm this Christmas

Lifeboats News Release

As we all face the usual, frantic run up to Christmas, spare a thought for RNLI volunteer lifeboat crews, who will continue to be on call 24/7/365, ever ready to abandon the Christmas present wrapping, panto watching and, even, Christmas lunch eating, to respond to their pagers.

David Ferguson RNLI volunteer and Royal Mail postman

RNLI/Joanna Stebbings

David Ferguson RNLI volunteer and Royal Mail postman

Whilst RNLI crew members become even busier over the festive period, the RNLI itself is also facing its own ‘perfect storm’ as demands on its lifesaving service increase and donations, especially legacy gifts, drop.

At the RNLI’s lifeboat station on Loch Ness, Scotland’s only ‘in-shore’ lifeboat station, volunteer crew member and local postie, David Ferguson, will be facing a particularly frantic Christmas time. With an increased workload, helping to make sure everyone’s parcels arrive on time, he’ll still be carrying his pager with him on his rounds. Speaking about the challenges that crews face, at this time of year, David said: “It’s, obviously, such a busy time of year to be a postie, the mail bag is just a wee bit heavier these days! There’s a fair few of us on the crew, and crews across the country, whose jobs get that bit more demanding at this time and at the same time, there’s no let-up in the likelihood of the pager going off.

“I’ve never heard a complaint from anyone on the crew though, no matter the time of year, this is a way of life for us and we’ll drop anything to help people in trouble on the water. You can see from the number of launches that the RNLI makes too, that, as an organisation, we’re just getting busier, we’d just ask people to remember that and if they do want to help us out with a donation then that’s great, it’s so appreciated by the crews, and everyone.”

During the festive period* last year, RNLI volunteers, across the UK and Ireland, launched to the rescue 155 times compared with just 21 call outs in 1979. During the festive periods dating back to 1979 RNLI volunteers have rescued 1,453 people and saved 299 lives.

To ensure the RNLI can continue its lifesaving work this Christmas and into the future, the charity is running a major fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, with the aim of raising £1.8M and recruiting 12,000 new supporters.

Notes to editors

*Festive period calculated from 24 Dec – 1 Jan

Scotland only stats - Over the festive period in 2018, Scottish stations, launched 11 times and aided 5 people. Since 1979, Scottish lifeboat stations have launched 414 times in the festive period, saved 51 lives and aided 216 people.

RNLI media contacts

Gemma McDonald, Regional Media Manager (Scotland), 07826 900639 or gemma_mcdonald@rnli.org.uk

Martin Macnamara, Regional Media Officer (Scotland), 07920 365929 or martin_macnamara@rnli.org.uk

RNLI/Joanna Stebbings

David Ferguson RNLI volunteer and Royal Mail postman

RNLI Loch Ness

Nessie with her pager at Christmas

RNLI/Joanna Stebbings

David Ferguson RNLI volunteer and Royal Mail postman


Some of the volunteer crew at Loch Ness at Christmas time


Snow falling on the RNLI Loch Ness slipway

Key facts about the RNLI

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, in a normal year, 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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.