Online fundraiser in Aith helps the RNLI to weather the storm

Lifeboats News Release

The annual Aith Lifeboat Gala had to be called off this year, but an online auction has managed to raise thousand of pounds in its place


Fundraisers Andrea and Laura celebrate their fantastic total in front of the Aith lifeboat, RNLI Charles Lidbury

The annual Aith Lifeboat Gala had to be called off this year due to Coronavirus restrictions, but an online auction - organised by a team of dedicated local fundraisers - has managed to raise thousand of pounds in its place.

The Gala event has been running on an annual basis since 1972, and was due to be held this year on Sunday 7 June. A celebration of the Aith community and its ties to the RNLI, it normal takes in around £6000 for the local lifeboat station.

After the disappointing decision to cancel the 2020 Gala - due to ongoing Coronavirus restrictions – its organising committee decided that they would try to raise some money through an online auction instead.

With over 80 prizes donated by local businesses and members of the public, the local community were invited to bid for each item – raising over £5500 for the RNLI.

Andrea Abernethy helped to organise the auction, and says that the RNLI is a cause always close to the community's heart. "To raise this amount online is excellent" she says, "and nearly makes up for having to call off the Gala!

"Folk around here always chip in lots for RNLI fundraisers. It's such a good cause, and - because the lifeboat is based here - we can all see just how often it gets called on to help people around Shetland. It has great community support."

John Robertson is Coxswain of the Aith Lifeboat station. He says: “the RNLI is very lucky to have such a supportive community here in Aith, and across the whole of Shetland. A big thanks to all of our fantastic local fundraising team, and particularly to Andrea and her sister Laura. We also owe thanks to everyone who bid on an auction prize, and to the 80 odd companies and individuals who donated their time, products or produce to help raise money for the lifeboats.”

The RNLI Chairman, Stuart Popham, says: "Throughout this public health crisis, the RNLI - a charity funded, staffed and supported almost entirely by private donations and volunteers - has provided an unbroken search and rescue service from 238 lifeboat stations around the coasts of the UK and Ireland.

"Sadly, though, we can't arrange fundraising events, open our shops, or welcome people to lifeboat stations at the moment, which means that our ability to fundraise has been severely impacted. This could be the biggest storm that the RNLI has ever faced.”

People are always able to show their support by donating online to help the RNLI replace worn out kit or repair lifeboats. To support our lifesavers, go to:

Note to editors

Aith lifeboat station has been operating for over 80 years, and is the most northerly in the UK. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to:

RNLI media contacts

Daniel Lawson, Lifeboat Press Officer, 07765560695

Martin Macnamara, RNLI Media Officer for Scotland, 07920 365929,

Gemma McDonald, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 01738 642956, 07826 900639,

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789

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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