Business as usual for north west RNLI lifeguards keeping Christmas visitors safe
RNLI lifeguards at Crosby beach – the charity’s only 365-day-a-year patrolled beach – will swap turkey and tinsel for offering safety advice and responding to emergency calls this Christmas.
Crosby beach is a two-and-a-half-mile wide expanse of sand, mostly backed by promenade, with a one-mile tidal range. Many visitors come to see the popular Antony Gormley sculptures, which can be partially or totally submerged depending on the state of tide. Over the festive period, more people than ever flock to the beach and RNLI lifeguards are on hand to offer safety advice and help anyone who should get into trouble.
Liam Crosbie, an RNLI lifeguard for four years, says:
‘Whether it’s people looking to work off their Christmas dinner, children looking for space to try their new toys or families keen to show their visiting relatives the statues, Crosby beach is really busy over the festive period.
‘The main risk on Crosby beach is people out walking out to the statues and getting cut off by the tide or stuck in the mud. A lot of the work we’ll do over the holiday period will be prevention – ensuring people are aware of the risks so they can enjoy the Christmas period safely with their families. We’d really encourage people to check the tide times and remain within 50m of the promenade when enjoying the beach and be aware of the risks, specially the mud. If you do find yourself in trouble, our advice is to keep as still as possible and call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’
Two RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling Crosby beach on Christmas Day. Siobhan Murphy, who has clocked up three seasons as a lifeguard, says the atmosphere makes the day extra special. She says:
‘Working over Christmas is really not too bad, knowing you are on hand to help people makes it all worthwhile. People are always in such a good mood and are so kind to us, bringing in mince pies, chocolate and hot drinks to show their appreciation to us for being there, which is really kind.’
For RNLI lifeguard Jack Barwise, this will be his first winter season, so spending Christmas Day away from his family will be a new experience.
‘I think my family realise doing something worthwhile over Christmas is a good thing, so they are not too disappointed I won’t be there. There will be plenty of time to spend with the family once our shift is over. The mood is really great so it’s nice to be given the opportunity to be able to help people.’
RNLI lifeguards also work closely with local RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew, who are ready to drop everything when the call for help comes. During 2018, RNLI volunteers in the north west experienced their busiest festive period* since records began. There were eight lifeboat launches between Christmas Eve and New Years’ Day, one life saved, and seven people assisted. This is compared with just one launch 40 years ago. RNLI volunteers in Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside are ready to answer calls for help whatever day of the year.
The RNLI’s Perfect Storm appeal has been launched in response to some major challenges the charity is facing. In 2018, the RNLI’s financial resources dropped by £28.6M, while its crews are busier than ever.
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
*Festive periods calculated from 24 Dec – 1 Jan.
Notes to editors
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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.