Lough Derg RNLI mother appeals for support for charity this Christmas
The mother of a Lough Derg RNLI crew member is asking the people of Tipperary 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 due to the pandemic. This was despite the lifesaving charity having to spend extra funds to ensure its volunteer lifeboat crews including those at Lough Derg 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 the water, 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.
Maureen Egan whose son Ger is a volunteer crew member on Lough Derg RNLI’s inshore lifeboat, grew up beside the lake and knows all too well how important it is for crews to have the right lifesaving kit and PPE.
‘From where I live, I can see the lifeboat launching from Dromineer and I always get a chill, particularly if it dark or stormy. I grew up by the lake, so I have a great respect for it, it was something my father instilled in me as a child.
‘I am very proud that Ger is a volunteer lifeboat crew member. but I 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.’
With Ger on the lifeboat crew for nine years, Maureen is well used to family events being interrupted by the pager. Indeed, Maureen is often called upon at short notice to look after the grandchildren.
‘On numerous occasions the phone has rang to say there is a shout and I say to Ger to go ahead and I will go to the kids. We live beside each other, so it only takes me two or three minutes to get to his house and I know how important that is when somebody on the lake is depending on the lifeboat crew to respond promptly.’
And this Christmas will be no different for the Egan family. Maureen will be prepared for Ger to rush out the door at the sound of his pager, even if it is during the Christmas dinner.
‘It can be difficult seeing Ger leave when the pager goes. I worry about what he might go through when he is out on a shout. Even at Christmas, I know that he might have to drop everything like the other volunteers in Lough Derg 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 Ger to make his 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.’
Ger 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 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 lake 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
Maureen Egan pictured with her son Ger, a crew member at Lough Derg RNLI.
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.