Kilkeel RNLI volunteers are 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 search and rescue 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, lifeboats in Northern Ireland launched 283 times coming to the aid of 370 people. In Kilkeel the Atlantic class Inshore lifeboat was launched 14 times and brought 16 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 called ‘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 at sea.
In Kilkeel RNLI, the volunteer lifeboat crew are always ready to launch if they get the call. The volunteers have a range of professions and Lifeboat Operations Manager John Fisher is proud of his team and their ability to drop everything if that call for help comes in. Kilkeel RNLI’s newest lifeboat volunteer, Chris McConnell has followed in the footsteps of his father, Lifeboat Helm Andrew McConnell. He couldn’t have asked for a better teacher as Andrew recently received his thirty-year lifeboat service award. This Christmas will be the first one where Andrew, who has just turned 20 years of age, will be wearing a lifeboat pager.
His dad is very proud of him but also knows the seriousness of the commitment he has given in signing up to be a volunteer lifeboat crewmember. Andrew said, ‘I’ve known Chris was coming onto the lifeboat for a few years. I signed up after some of my friends invited me to give it a try and I went out on the lifeboat and took a fancy to it. It was a dirty night and we had the small D class lifeboat back then, but I just took to it. The relationship you have with your fellow lifeboat volunteers is as strong as family. On a bad shout it’s them that you depend on.’
‘I’m so proud of Chris for joining but I’ll also look out for him too. As his dad and a Helm, I want him to learn the ropes and if it’s a tough shout, decide when he’s ready to go. Both Chris and I are Marine Engineers in the harbour but those hours you spend out on the lifeboat on exercise and ones I look forward to all week.’
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
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Niamh Stephenson, Regional Media Manager on 00353 871254124 or Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk or Nuala McAloon, Regional Media Officer on 00353 876483547 or Nuala_McAloon@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.