RNLI volunteers facing the Perfect Storm this Christmas

Lifeboats News Release

- Donaghadee man Brian McLawrence looks forward to his first Christmas as Volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manger

Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Brian McLawrence is welcomed into his new role by Coxswain Philip McNamara

RNLI/Margaret Ramm

Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Brian McLawrence is welcomed into his new role by Coxswain Philip McNamara

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 important than ever.

Last year, lifeboats in Northern Ireland launched 283 times coming to the aid of 370 people. Bangor RNLI launched 36 times, rescuing 34 people while Donaghadee RNLI launched 27 times, bringing 53 people to safety 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 at ten lifeboat stations in Northern 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.

If the call for help comes, family members will need to abandon their turkey dinner and head to their lifeboat station. Some RNLI volunteers don’t go to sea but have a vital role in ensuring that the lifeboats launch and that communication with them is maintained during the hours they are at sea.

In Donaghadee one such volunteer is Brian McLawrence. Brian became a Deputy Launching Authority in the lifeboat station four years ago, but this Christmas will see him in the role of Lifeboat Operations Manager, a post he recently took over from Peter Irwin. Always a lover of the sea, Brian was unable to join the lifeboat crew due to work and sport commitments in the past. He was a respected rugby referee for thirty years before hanging up his whistle and turning his talents to the lifeboat. Coaxed into volunteering for the RNLI by the Donaghadee Coxswain Philip McNamara while he was out for walk in the town, Brian is looking forward to the challenge of his new role and isn’t underestimating its importance.

Commenting on his new position in Donaghadee RNLI, Brian said, ‘Things have come full circle for me as my grandfather Robert Walker was lifeboat crew in the thirties and forties. The dedication of our crew is incredible and there is a strong sense of family among them. I know that if the pager went off at any hour, I would have six or seven lifeboat volunteers down at the station in minutes, followed by a half dozen more after that. Those that are too late to make the shout, help launch the lifeboat and stay close in case they are needed.’

‘We are so lucky here to have a great lifeboat provided to us by the RNLI and through the generosity of the public. Our Coxswain Philip and our mechanic Shane are the best at what they do. We work alongside our lifeboat neighbours in Bangor, with their inshore lifeboat, to provide a ring of cover along our coastline. All RNLI volunteers share a common goal to help save lives and they wear their pager with a sense of pride. I want to thank people for supporting the RNLI, they literally are lifesavers.’

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 Niamh Stephenson, Regional Media Manager on 00 353 871254124 email [email protected] or Nuala McAloon, Regional Media Officer on 00 353 87 6483547 or [email protected]

Saxon lifeboat


Saxon lifeboat

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.