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Grateful father backs RNLI Christmas appeal years after Clogherhead RNLI rescue

Lifeboats News Release

Sean Doherty, the proud father of twin girls, Lisa and Gillian Doherty (22) has urged the public to support the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal after a challenging year dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on fundraising.

Twins Lisa and Gillian Doherty (22)

RNLI/Sean Doherty

Twins Lisa and Gillian Doherty (22)

Sean has reason to be grateful to the RNLI after the volunteer lifeboat crew at Clogherhead RNLI saved his daughter Lisa when she was kayaking with her class and the group capsized, leaving them in choppy waters and in serious danger of being swept out to sea or going under.

The rescue took place on the 26th of May 2011 when Lisa was a student in primary school and her class visited Clogherhead to go kayaking. Lisa and her classmates, along with an instructor, were out from the shore when all the kayaks capsized. With the strong winds and ebbing tide, the group were all in the water and in danger of being swept out to sea or going under. A short distance away the Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Declan Levins was in the station and saw the drama unfold. He immediately alerted the Coast Guard that he was launching the station’s lifeboat and the group were rescued by the lifeboat crew and taken to hospital. Some of them were in the water up to forty-five minutes as the lifeboat searched and pulled them onboard. Thankfully all made a full recovery.

Sean Doherty has never forgotten that day and the fear he felt when his wife rang to tell him that Lisa was in hospital after the rescue. Sean returned to the station after Lisa’s recovery to shake the hands of the lifeboat crew who rescued his daughter and promised he would always remember them. True to his word Sean has kept in touch with the lifeboat crew in the years since and jumped at the opportunity to help the charity promote their Christmas appeal.

Explaining why he is backing the RNLI Christmas appeal Sean said, ‘In my view the RNLI represents the best in people. When the call for help goes out, everybody turns up. It’s hard to fathom that people could be so giving. I think about them all the time. My twins are 22 years of age now, young women, and Lisa is here thanks to the actions of those volunteers. We talked about the rescue when it happened, but I also think of the lifeboat crew at this time of year and at the milestones in Lisa’s life, her 18th birthday and her 21st. You can brush over something like this so easily and move on, but we don’t ever take it for granted.’

RNLI lifesavers across 46 lifeboat stations in Ireland are prepared to rush out of the door at the sound of their pager, even during their Christmas dinner. This year the charity has spent funds on PPE, including face masks, gloves and thousands of litres of hand sanitiser. This is money the charity hadn’t budgeted for but needed to be spent to keep its lifesavers and the public protected during the coronavirus crisis. 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. The RNLI have launched their Christmas appeal this year as so many of their traditional community fundraising events such as raft races, open days and sea swims have had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus restrictions.

The RNLI is extremely grateful to the Doherty family for their support. To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit:


RNLI media contacts

For information contact Niamh Stephenson, RNLI Media Manager Tel: 087 1254 124 email [email protected] or Nuala McAloon, RNLI Media Officer Tel: 087 648 3547 email [email protected]

Arrival of the Clogherhead Shannon class lifeboat

RNLI/Pat Browne

Arrival of the Clogherhead Shannon class lifeboat

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.

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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.