Volunteer crew from Devon kick start the RNLI’s Mayday Fundraising Appeal

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI’s annual Mayday Appeal normally sees people taking part in group fundraising events around the UK and Ireland but, due to the current global pandemic, the RNLI is taking the campaign online. Nat and Rich, volunteer lifeboat crew from Appledore RNLI Lifeboat Station will launch the

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Nat Simmons and Rich Withey volunteer crew at Appledore lifeboat station

fundraising appeal on Friday (1 May) by inviting supporters to a ‘Cuppa with the Crew’, a Facebook Live session.

Starting as shore crew in 2016 and progressing to passing out as navigator on the station’s all-weather lifeboat, Nat Simmons and her partner Rich Withey are no stranger themselves to fundraising for the charity. During their time with the RNLI, they’ve got involved in a variety of fundraising events, from Rich organising a 100-mile Tour de Yellow Welly cycle ride to playing music at a fashion show.

Supporters can join Nat and Rich between 10.30-11am to ask questions about fundraising and their role on the crew and enjoy a well-deserved tea break, all for a small donation of the price they would usually pay for a takeaway coffee or tea. A link to the Facebook live event is below.

Although we’re all being asked to stay home at the moment, the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews are still on-call 24/7, ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice when the pager sounds, to go out into the unknown and save lives at sea.

The charity is calling on the public across the south west to help raise funds for its vital lifesaving service by grabbing a cuppa, joining a step count challenge, or ditching their favourite tipple for its online Mayday appeal.

Other RNLI Mayday fundraising challenges include ‘Step to it for Mayday’, which will encourage people to take part in a daily step challenge, whether it be laps around the house, a hike up the stairs or a stroll through the garden. Supporters can choose a variety of different targets, depending on their ability.

As an alternative, the RNLI is also challenging the public to ditch their favourite tipple, cups of coffee or cans of fizzy and only drink water for ten days – a lockdown detox! Supporters can either gain sponsorship or donate the money you would have spent on alcohol or coffee over the ten days.

RNLI Fundraising, Marketing and Media Director, Jayne George, says:

‘Our Mayday fundraising campaign is a vital event in the RNLI calendar and - given the current situation - it is more important than ever.

‘For years, our fantastic fundraisers have given their time and energy in May to help out our lifesavers. But the welfare of our volunteers, staff and supporters is our priority, and the usual range of activities are now impossible. So this year, Mayday will look a bit different.

‘While many fundraising events and gatherings have been cancelled, our brave lifeboat volunteers are still responding to their pagers and launching in lockdown. So, we are encouraging our supporters to take on fundraising challenges at home. That way they will be able to help protect our lifesavers, while also keeping themselves and others safe.

‘Our charity is powered by the public’s generosity and we are so grateful for their support during this difficult time.’

Visit RNLI.org/Mayday to find downloadable materials for all Mayday activities, get involved with our challenges and do something amazing from the safety of your home this May.

Notes to editor

  • To join the Facebook live event follow the link here

  • Further details on each fundraising campaign can be found here: rnli.org/Mayday

  • Please find attached a picture of Nat and Rich, Volunteer lifeboat crew at Appledore Lifeboat Station and a ‘Cuppa with the crew’ image credit RNLI for both

RNLI media contacts
For more information, please contact Marianne Quinn (Regional Media Officer) at
Marianne_Quinn@rnli.org.uk or Amy Caldwell (Regional Media Manager) at Amy_Caldwell@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively, call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.

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Cuppa with the Crew

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.

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.