Carrybridge and Enniskillen RNLI volunteers facing the Perfect Storm

Lifeboats News Release

As Christmas approaches, the RNLI is issuing its own call for help as the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews are getting busier.

RNLI/Stephen Scott

Joe Donnelly and Chris Cathcart

The charity is facing a ‘Perfect Storm’ with more people than ever needing its help, meaning support from the public is more vital than ever.

Last year, RNLI lifeboats launched 283 times from their 10 lifeboat stations in Northern Ireland with their volunteer crews bringing 370 people to safety.

Locally, Carrybridge RNLI launched 57 times, rescuing 99 people on Upper Lough Erne while Enniskillen RNLI on Lower Lough Erne, launched 32 times and rescued 54 people.

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.

While many people will be thinking about presents, turkey and time with the family, dedicated RNLI volunteers at the two lifeboat stations in Fermanagh will be ensuring their yellow wellies and lifejackets are ready for when the call comes and will be ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice to save lives on inland waters.

In many cases, long serving volunteers will need to abandon their turkey dinner and head to their lifeboat station when the call for help comes in.

The community lifesaving team at Carrybridge RNLI, can remember three different occasions in the last six years when they had to launch their lifeboat during the Christmas period.

‘On the 27 December 2013, we launched in force 9-10 winds to two vessels - a rowing boat and a sports cruiser that were adrift but thankfully no one was aboard either,’ Chris Cathcart, Carrybridge RNLI Helm explained. ‘The next year in 2014 we were requested to launch twice on the same day just four days before Christmas, first to go to the aid of a small cabin cruiser with two fishermen onboard and later to a broken-down vessel with two people onboard. In 2017, on the 27 December, we were requested to help two people who had got into difficulty on two Canadian canoes at Crom.’

Now, as the current volunteer lifeboat crew at Carrybridge and Enniskillen RNLI prepare for Christmas 2019, they will be ready and willing once again to respond should their pagers go off.

Be it for new volunteers such as Joe Donnelly at Carrybridge RNLI who is preparing for his first Christmas on call, or for long serving crew members such as Chris who has been volunteering for 18 years ever since the station was established, Christmas will be no different to any other time of year.

‘We’ll still be on call ready to save lives and delay our own Christmas celebrations, Chris said. ‘None of our volunteer team at Carrybridge will mind doing that, that is what we are here for. It is our hope that no one finds themselves in difficulty in the water this Christmas, but should we be called out, there will be no greater gift for us than to bring someone to safety.

‘We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the public. The RNLI has experienced a shortfall in funds, but we are rescuing more people than ever before. We are facing the Perfect Storm and are calling on people to make a donation this Christmas to ensure we can continue saving lives on inland waters.’

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


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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.

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