Donegal RNLI crews appeal for support this Christmas
The wife and mother of three Bundoran RNLI crew members is asking Donegal people to support the charity’s annual Christmas Appeal after volunteers faced an unprecedented year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The RNLI has seen a drop in income in 2020 as traditional fundraising activities had to be cancelled. This was despite the lifesaving charity having to spend extra funds to ensure its volunteer lifeboat crews including those at Bundoran, Arranmore and Lough Swilly RNLI, had the vital PPE, such as face masks and gloves to keep their lifesavers safe.
Yet, during an extraordinary year and while facing new challenges in saving lives at sea, lifeboat crews wearing additional PPE and adapting to restrictions, continued to respond to the pager and work tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep people safe.
As lockdown restrictions eased and between the months of July to October, lifeboats at Ireland’s 46 stations, launched 512 times with their crews bringing 793 people to safety. The statistics reflect an increase of 33 more launches and 164 more people aided, on the same four-month period last year.
Lorraine Cassidy whose husband James and sons Nathan (22) and Oisin (21), are all volunteer crew members on Bundoran RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, knows all too well how important it is for crews to have the right lifesaving kit and PPE.
‘I am very proud that three members of the family are now volunteer lifeboat crew members in Bundoran but I also worry when the pager beeps and they are called out to save others who are in trouble. There is always such a sense of relief when they bring those in difficulty back to safety but also when they return home safely themselves.’
Nathan and Oisin were always destined to join the lifesaving crew at Bundoran with their father James a lifeboat crew member for 19 years. For Lorraine and daughter Cora, 11, who also aspires to be a crew member, they are well used to family events being interrupted by the pager.
And this Christmas will be no different for the Cassidy family. Lorraine and Cora will be prepared for James, Nathan and Oisin, to rush out the door at the sound of their pager, even during their Christmas dinner.
‘It can be difficult seeing one or all of the boys leave when the pager goes. I worry about who will be on the lifeboat and what they might go through when they are out on a shout. Even at Christmas, I know that the three of them might have to drop everything like the other volunteers in Bundoran and run out the door to go and save someone’s life. However, I also know how important the crew member’s role is and how rewarding it is for their them to make their contribution. The RNLI depends on the goodwill of others to support the work our volunteer crews do and that is why I would urge people if they can, to give to the Christmas Appeal.’
Nathan added to his mother’s plea and said a donation to the charity would make a great difference: ‘RNLI volunteers have had a challenging year but thankfully, with many additional safety measures and procedures in place to ensure our safety, we have remained on call 24/7 throughout the pandemic. We have our standard PPE but now also wear masks and gloves and take extra precautions at sea. We know the extra PPE comes at a financial cost to the charity and during a time when fundraising activity has had to be halted.
‘The best Christmas gift RNLI volunteers like Dad, Oisin and I can wish for, is a kind donation to our Christmas appeal. Funds raised will provide the lifesaving kit we need when we are at sea and helping to bring someone to safety.’
As a charity, the RNLI relies on the support of the public to continue saving lives – and that support is needed now more than ever. To support, visit: RNLI.org/Xmas
Photos 1: The Cassidy family from left, Nathan, Lorraine, James, Cora and Oisin.
Photo 3: Aspiring crew members Oisin and Nathan Cassidy pictured as children with their father James.
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.