Ederney RNLI family in appeal for support for charity this Christmas
The mother of an Enniskillen RNLI crew member is asking people in county Fermanagh to support the charity’s annual Christmas appeal after volunteers faced an unprecedented year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The RNLI which has two lifeboat stations on Upper and Lower Lough Erne, 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 Enniskillen and Carrybridge 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 on inland waters and 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.
For Margaret Ingram, whose son Stephen is a volunteer helm on Enniskillen RNLI’s inshore lifeboat and an NHS frontline worker, she knows all too well how challenging this year has been and how important it is for crews to have the right lifesaving kit and PPE.
‘I am very proud that Stephen is a volunteer helm at Enniskillen RNLI,’ Margaret said, ‘but I do also worry when the pager beeps and he is called out to save others who are in trouble. There is always such a sense of relief when he helps to bring those in difficulty back to safety but also when he returns home safely himself.’
Stephen joined the lifesaving team at Enniskillen RNLI in 2005 and over the last 15 years, Margaret has got well used to family events being interrupted by the pager. And this Christmas will be no different for the Ingram family.
‘It can be difficult knowing that Stephen is on call 24/7 and seeing him leave when the pager goes,’ Margaret continued. I worry about what he might go through when he is out on a shout. Even at Christmas, we know that he might have to drop everything like the other volunteers in Enniskillen and Carrybridge 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 much satisfaction Stephen gets from making his contribution. The RNLI depends on the goodwill of others to support the work our volunteer crews do and that is why as a family, we would urge people if they can, to give to the Christmas Appeal.’
For Stephen who works as a Western Trust team leader in a residential care setting, 2020 has been a year like no other. But he says operating in a pandemic both professionally and as a volunteer, has been rewarding.
‘It has been a unique year both as a professional carer and a volunteer. I have had to take every precaution to ensure those around me including my parents who are in my bubble have remained safe. My mother also broke her leg earlier this summer and had to have surgery, so we have been very cautious in following all government guidelines, restrictions and public health advice. While it has been challenging, it has been worthwhile both at work and at the RNLI, to be able to do my bit to help others in a pandemic.
Stressing the importance of lifesaving kit and PPE, Stephen echoed his mother’s plea and said a donation to the RNLI this year 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 on the lake. 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 me can wish for, is a kind donation to our Christmas appeal. Funds raised will provide the lifesaving kit we need when we are on the water 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
Enniskillen RNLI Helm Stephen Ingram pictured with his mother Margaret.
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.