As Christmas approaches, the RNLI is issuing its own call for help as new figures show that the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews in the south west are more than 500% busier over the festive period compared with 40 years ago.
The charity is facing a Perfect Storm, with more people drowning and a shortfall in funds, meaning support from the public is more vital than ever.
During the festive period** last year, RNLI volunteers in the region launched to the rescue 21 times compared with just four call outs in 1979. During the festive periods dating back from 1979 to 2018, RNLI volunteers in the south west have rescued 255 people and saved 60 lives. Since 2016 they have consistently launched over 21 times over the eight days from Christmas Eve to New Years Day, compared to an average over the 40 years of 11.
To ensure the RNLI can continue its lifesaving work this Christmas and into the future, the charity is launching a major fundraising appeal The Perfect Storm with the aim of raising £1.8M and recruiting 12,000 new supporters.
Whilst many families will be thinking about presents, turkey and time with the family, dedicated RNLI volunteers from 238 lifeboat stations across the UK and Ireland will be ensuring their traditional yellow wellies and lifejackets are ready for when the call comes.
In Bude, it's not just the lifeboat crew who are preparing to be busy over the festive season. Our shop volunteers and boathouse guides, affectionately known as 'Shed Sherpas', are pulling out all the stops by opening the shop and boathouse 11am -3pm throughout the holidays including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day.
RNLI shop volunteer Heather Jones has been opening the shop on Christmas day for the last six years and this will be the second year that volunteer Andrew Barnard will be opening the boat house, allowing visitors to pop in and see the lifeboat. On Boxing day volunteer Lifeboat Visit Officers (LVOs) Nigel and Meg Tupper will be joining the fun. They became RNLI volunteers after moving to Bude a couple of years ago and this will be their first Boxing Day helping to show visitors around the boat house.
Heather, who has a volunteered for the RNLI for over 18 years, has a cat that makes it impossible for her to travel up-country to visit family. She said 'It's a nice atmosphere in the shop on Christmas day, plenty of people pop in and now that Andrew opens the boat house I'm spending the day with a friend and helping to raise money for charity at the same time. It's much better than being stuck in the house. It's nice that so many people stop by and have a chat and everyone is in a good mood, so it makes the day enjoyable.'
Volunteer Andrew, who has over five and a half years of volunteering experience with the RNLI said, 'People can see from a distance that the boat house is open and it encourages people to come down, take a look around the shop and find out more about the lifeboat and RNLI. I think that because we make a special effort to open, and because everyone is in a cheerful Christmas spirit, visitors are keen to make donations and add some change to our whirly-gigs.'
Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer for Bude, Lorna Crystal said: ‘We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our dedicated volunteers and 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 at sea. If you're coming into Bude on Christmas Day to join in or watch the sea swim at Crooklets, or are out for a Boxing Day walk, please call into the RNLI shop and boat house at the lifeboat station in Summerleaze car park. I know that our fantastic volunteers will make you feel welcome!’
As well as RNLI calls increasing during the Christmas period the cause for callouts has shifted for the volunteers heading to sea.
In the early 80’s, nationally statistics show 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.
Steve Instance, RNLI Community Safety Partner for south west 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
*Festive periods calculated from 24 Dec – 1 Jan
Notes to editors
Please find attached jpeg images of RNLI volunteers Heather Jones, Andrew Barnard and Nigel Tupper
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Lorna Crystal, Bude Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, by email at Lorna_Crystal@rnli.org.uk or phone 07505 177928 or Amy Caldwell, RNLI Regional Media Manager, on 07920818807 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Emma Haines, RNLI Regional Media Officer on 07786668847 email@example.com or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 – firstname.lastname@example.org
RNLI online For more information on the RNLI please visit rnli.org. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre rnli.org/news-and-media.
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.