Rescuee answers charity’s Mayday call by setting up RNLI fundraising branch

Lifeboats News Release

Debbie Hales, survivor of a life changing jet-ski accident off the coast of Blackpool is now doing her bit to support the charity’s fundraising campaign Mayday


Debbie Hales, (left) is fundraising for the RNLI with friends Mel Hardman and Maureen Vickers.

The mum-of-five from Bolton has set up her own fundraising branch in Blackburn and Darwen to show her gratitude to the Blackpool RNLI volunteer who saved her life back in 2003. The incident tragically claimed the life of her husband Ian.

To celebrate the branch’s inauguration, Debbie is arranging collections at Blackburn Mall on 18 May as her way of saying thank you. She is being held by friends Mel Hardman and Maureen Vickers, who are the first members of the new branch.

They are all hoping locals dig deep to support the campaign which aims to raise £700,000 towards essential crew kit.

Debbie and her family say they feel ‘indebted to the RNLI’ after volunteer crew from Blackpool Lifeboat Station answered the call for help after a freak incident in Blackpool on Good Friday, 2003.

Debbie was with her husband and three of their five children enjoying a family day out, when tragedy struck.

Since recovering from her injuries, Debbie has worked tirelessly as a fundraiser and supporter for the charity that saves lives at sea. She was keen to make her support official by setting up the Blackburn and Darwen RNLI fundraising branch, as a way to raise much needed funds for the charity.

James Robinson, RNLI Community Fundraising Manager says:

'One of the difficulties facing the RNLI is making the lifesaving service relevant to people who live inland, with many questioning why they should support a lifeboat when they live some way from the coast. However, our statistics show that many of the people our volunteers do rescue are people visiting the coast from inland communities. We are working hard to spread our prevention messages into these communities. The same safety messages apply to people enjoying the canals, reservoirs and lakes of the north west when the good weather comes.

Debbie Hales says:

'I had never thought I would ever need the RNLI to come to my rescue but without them I wouldn’t be here today. Ever since that day I have wanted to give something back to the RNLI to thank them for saving my life. My passion is raising awareness of the RNLI’s lifesaving volunteers and ensuring that people know more about how to stay safe around water be it inland or at the coast and this is why I have formed the Blackburn and Darwen fundraising branch in the hope of saving more lives.'

Anyone who wants to get involved should visit to register for a free Mayday pack. The pack provides a host of fundraising ideas, such as encouraging friends and colleagues to plan a wear-yellow fundraiser, getting sponsored to run, walk or cycle, cooking up some yellow-themed bakes to sell or even getting together to lift the weight of a 32 tonne Tamar class lifeboat!

The charity is also encouraging people to show support on their social media, joining the conversation using the hashtag #MaydayEveryDay, or by donating online or buying a yellow welly pin badge.

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact Danielle Rush, RNLI Media Relations Manager for Wales and the West on 07786 668829 or email Alternatively, call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email

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.