Lough Derg RNLI volunteers facing the Perfect Storm this Christmas
As Christmas approaches, the RNLI is issuing its own call for help as the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews are getting busier.
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, Irish lifeboats launched 1,066 times coming to the aid of 1,441 people,19 of whom were lives saved. Locally, Lough Derg RNLI launched 16 times, bringing 25 people to safety.
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 will be ensuring their yellow wellies and lifejackets are ready for when the call comes and will be prepared to drop everything at a moment’s notice to save lives on inland waters.
In many cases, volunteers will need to abandon their turkey dinner and head to their lifeboat station when the call for help comes in.
In many cases, family members will need to abandon their turkey dinner and head to their lifeboat station when the call for help comes in.
This will be no different at Lough Derg RNLI, where many of the crew have young children who will be looking forward to Santa Claus coming and playing their new toys with their parents.
Among the RNLI families is lifeboat helm Owen Cavanagh who has been a volunteer since 2007. He is married to Lizzie, the station’s Lifeboat Press Officer and they have two children aged one and three. They will be joined for Christmas Day lunch by Owen’s sister Clodagh who is married to crew member Stephen Smyth and they have two children aged two and four. But, like the rest of the volunteers at Lough Derg RNLI, Owen, Lizzie and Stephen know if the call comes, they too will be willing and ready to drop everything to help someone in need:
‘Christmas is no different to any other time of year,’ Owen says, ‘We’ll still be on call ready to save lives and delay our own Christmas celebrations. None of our volunteer team at Lough Derg 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 Christmas gift for us than to bring someone to safety.
‘We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the public.’
Be it for new volunteers such as Doireann Kennedy who is preparing for her first Christmas on call, or for helm Eleanor Hooker who is the station’s longest serving crew member, the current volunteer lifeboat crew at Lough Derg RNLI are prepared for Christmas 2019 and thankful to all those who support them.
‘We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our families and the public,’ explained Doireann who will be having Christmas lunch with her father Peter who is a Deputy Launching Authority and sister Aoife who is a station administrator. ‘Lifeboat families don’t make a fuss about it but living with a crew member has a big impact on their lives. They support the lifeboat service in very practical ways, and everyone who donates money supports the service financially. It’s a real team effort. It only works because we all contribute in our own way. We go on to the water knowing that we have the best training and equipment available thanks to our tireless fundraisers.
‘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 RNLI.org/ThePerfectStorm
Lough Derg RNLI’s longest serving crew member and helm Eleanor Hooker with the Doireann Kennedy who is preparing for her first Christmas on call.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Nuala McAloon, Regional Media Officer on 00353 876483547 or Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Niamh Stephenson, Regional Media Manager on 00353 871254124 or Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk
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.