Sligo Bay RNLI volunteers facing the Perfect Storm this Christmas

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/Donal Hackett

Sligo RNLI volunteers

Last year, Irish lifeboats launched 1,066 times coming to the aid of 1,441 people,19 of whom were lives saved. Locally, Sligo Bay RNLI launched 32 times, rescuing 15 people, two of whom were lives saved thanks to the direct actions of the lifeboat crew.

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 from 46 lifeboat stations across Ireland 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 at sea.

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

Among the community lifesaving team at Sligo Bay RNLI, there are six volunteers who have carried lifeboat pagers over Christmas for more than 20 years.

Michael Waters and Eithne Davis, both of whom are helms on Sligo RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, Dermot Gillen, former crew member, former chair of the fundraising committee and now Deputy Launching Authority, and John Ryan, former crew and current shore crew member, were all recognised by the RNLI this year for their 20 years of selfless dedication to the lifesaving charity. All four were original members of the Sligo lifeboat crew and all have been carrying a pager ever since.

Meanwhile, helm Gerard Cunniffe and Stephen Reid, a former helm and now Deputy Launching Authority, will be honoured for their 20 years’ service later next year.

Eithne who joined Sligo Lifeboat Station in 1998 as a crew member and mother of two small children, says:

‘Christmas is no different to any other time of year. We’ll be on call and our families will be ready to delay Christmas celebrations should the pagers go off. 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 to sea knowing that we have the best training and equipment available thanks to our tireless fundraisers, even though costs are rising all the time alongside improved safety standards. Our families know this too, and that helps to reassure them when we drop everything and launch the lifeboat.’

The RNLI couldn’t do what it does without the support of the public. The charity has experienced a shortfall in funds but is rescuing more people than ever before. Its volunteers are facing the Perfect Storm and are calling on people to make a donation this Christmas to ensure they can continue saving lives at sea.

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


Photo Detail

Pictured from left Michael Waters, Eithne Davis, Dermot Gillen and John Ryan who were recognised by the RNLI this year for 20 years volunteer service.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please Nuala McAloon, Regional Media Officer on 0876483547 or [email protected] or Niamh Stephenson, Regional Media Manager on 0871254124 or [email protected]

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.

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.