Rise in festive rescues could mean unconventional Christmas Day for Flint family
As the festive season approaches, the RNLI in Wales is issuing its own call for help, as new figures show Christmas call outs over the last 40 years have rocketed.
Between 1979 – 1989, Welsh volunteers attended an average of four call outs over the Christmas period. During the last 10 years, the figure has risen by a dramatic 187 per cent, to an average of 11 lifeboat launches between 2009-2018.
During the festive period* last year, RNLI volunteers in Wales launched 23 times from the station’s 30 lifeboat stations from Flint to Penarth and assisted 20 people. In 1979, there was only one launch during the same period and one person aided.
The rise in figures could mean there is more likelihood than ever that three members of the same Flint family swap turkey and tinsel for saving lives this Christmas.
Sisters Carly (26) and Rachael McCarthy (30) and their dad Bill Dewsbury all volunteer for Flint RNLI. Rachael, a police officer joined the crew 10 years ago and is the station’s first female helm. Bill has been volunteering with the RNLI for eight years, first as Station Mechanic and now as Deputy Launch Authority.
Carly, a teaching assistant who currently volunteers as boat crew and is hoping to become the station’s second female helm says:
‘We all live together and it’s certainly a wake-up call when all three pagers are going off in one house in the middle of the night. The adrenaline kicks in and driving to the station is tense. We don’t know what the job is going to be until we’re at the station putting our kit on. That’s when the training kicks in and everyone just does their job.
‘My mum does worry, because often all three of us are out on the water. She doesn’t know what the job is or how long we’ll be out for – it could be two hours, it could be ten hours – until we get home.
‘At Christmas, it’s usually just the four of us and mum makes us Christmas dinner. We joke that it could end up just being her if we all get called out!’
As well as RNLI calls increasing during the Christmas period since 1979, the cause for callouts has shifted for the volunteers heading to sea.
In the early 80’s the most common cause of callout was to vessels with machinery failure. Figures have revealed that since 2000 many of those needing help are often just visiting the coast and not out on vessels or watercraft.
Chris Cousens, RNLI Community Safety Partner for Wales says ‘The festive period is no different to any other time of year and we have such dedicated volunteers ready to respond if a call comes in.
‘Around 150 people lose their lives at the UK and Irish Coast each year and over half never even planned to enter the water. As well as slips trips and falls tidal cut offs are also a contributing factor to RNLI call outs.’
The RNLI’s Perfect Storm appeal is being launched in response to some major challenges the charity is facing. In 2018, the RNLI’s financial resources dropped by £28.6M
To support the RNLI’s Perfect Storm appeal this Christmas, helping to ensure the charity’s brave volunteers can continue saving lives at sea, please visit RNLI.org/ThePerfectStorm
*Festive periods calculated from 24 Dec – 1 Jan
Notes to editors
Please find attached jpeg images of sisters Carly and Rachael McCarthy and dad Bill Dewsbury who all volunteer with Flint RNLI
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Danielle Rush, RNLI Media Relations Manager in Wales on 07786 668829 or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789.
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 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.