Injured Islander backs RNLI Christmas appeal after lifeboat crew come to her aid

Lifeboats News Release

Inishlyre islander Sheila Keeley, who was assisted by Achill Island RNLI when she badly fractured her back last September leaving her unable to move, has urged people to support the RNLI’s Christmas appeal.

Sheila Keeley with brother Joachim (Joe) and Rhoda

RNLI/Rhoda Towbley

Sheila Keeley with brother Joachim (Joe) and Rhoda

Sheila lives on the island, one of the last inhabited ones in Clew bay, with her brother Joachim (Joe) and his partner Rhoda. The lifesaving charity is launching their Christmas fundraising appeal after a challenging year dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last September Sheila awoke in agony and was unable to walk. Unknown to her she had fractured her back in two places. Sheila managed to crawl out of her bed and alert her brother who immediately called the emergency services. She urgently needed an ambulance but that was on the mainland. Achill Island RNLI was alerted, and the lifeboat crew made their way to the island and transferred Sheila by stretcher onboard the lifeboat and on to Rosmoney pier to meet the awaiting ambulance. Due to the pandemic, lifeboat crew were fully kitted up in PPE and Shelia was kept out on deck with the crew taking care of her and making sure she was comfortable on the crossing.

Now, just a couple of months later Sheila is up and walking and recovering well. She wants to thank the lifeboat crew who came to her aid and is calling on people to support the RNLI’s Christmas appeal and donate to the charity that saves lives at sea and who were her rescuers when she needed urgently medical attention.

The family are well known supporters of the RNLI and hold collections for the charity. They never thought they would need the lifeboat themselves but were thrilled the lifeboat was able to help Sheila when she was in so much pain and travel was challenging.

Commenting from her home on Inishlyre where she also made a thank you video for the lifeboat crew to be included in the RNLI review of the year, Sheila said, ‘I really wanted to do this for the RNLI. The lifeboat crew who came out to me from Achill were so kind and gentle with me. I don’t know what we would have done without them. They were so nice, and they took great care of me. Anyone can get into trouble suddenly and need them and they are always there. They are not just for big rescues at sea. I would not be walking around today if it were not for them and the wonderful paramedics who met me in Rosmoney.’

Sheila also invited the Achill Island RNLI crew back to Inishlyre in the future for ‘some tea and hot toasted sandwiches.’

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.

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit:

The RNLI wish to thank Sheila, Joachim (Joe) and Rhoda for their support.


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 Nuala_McAlo[email protected]

Achill Island Lifeboat on exericse

RNLI/Nigel Millard

Achill Island lifeboat on exercise

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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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