First Christmas on crew for Newbiggin’s Jess, as charity launches appeal
A volunteer crewmember with Newbiggin RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Insitution) is getting ready to face her first Christmas on call as a crew member, as the charity launches its Christmas appeal.
Jess Harvey is calling on the public to support the RNLI’s lifesaving work this Christmas as she and her fellow lifeboat volunteers are ready to launch and answer a call for help.
Jess signed up in June 2019 at the hight of the first wave of the Covid pandemic – one of hundreds of new volunteers nationwide for whom a change in working circumstances, or simply a calling to help people, provided motivation to join the charity.
Jess says ‘I’ve lived in Newbiggin all my life. When we were kids my dad would take me and my brother fishing – he always told us how important it was to be safe around water. My brother’s been on the crew a few years now, and during lockdown I thought “I’d like to do that too”. Covid meant it took a while to get going, but the last year has been brilliant. Everyone’s been so supportive – it’s given me more confidence than I ever knew I had.’
With thousands of volunteers around the UK and Ireland, each RNLI crew member signs up to save every one from drowning – the charity’s mission since 1824. This Christmas many will leave loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble at sea safely returned. Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period. These rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.
Kitting out a new crew member with clothing, boots, helmet and lifejacket costs around £2,000, with a further £1,400 to provide the world class training offered to all new recruits. On station, volunteers learn everything from boat-handling, search and rescue and navigation, to radar training, radio communications and casualty care. At the RNLI College, the state-of-the-art Sea Survival Centre features a wave tank and lifeboat bridge simulator, where crews experience simulated real-life conditions including darkness, thunder, lightning and rain.
Jess says: ‘This is my first Christmas as a qualified member of Newbiggin RNLI. The best thing about being on the crew is knowing that the pager can go off any time and you’ll be there to help anyone who needs it. I’ll be at home with my family this Christmas, but my pager will be with me. That’s how it is for thousands of volunteers, like me at stations across the country. But it wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of people donating to the RNLI.’
John Bryan, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Newbiggin RNLI, added: ‘We’re so proud of Jess. She joined at a difficult time at the start of the pandemic, but has been patient and embraced all her training with real determination. I’m sure she’ll be an important part of our crew for years to come.
‘At this time of year, the weather’s at its worst and lives can be on the line. Through people supporting this year’s Christmas appeal, we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.’
To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit: RNLI.org/Xmas
Photos: Jess Harvey at Newbiggin, and volunteers from Newbiggin RNLI say thank you to the charity’s supporters. All credit RNLI/Nathan Williams
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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