Brothers among four new crew members carrying pagers and on call for the first time this Christmas
Two brothers whose great-grandfather was awarded a bronze medal for gallantry in 1942 are among four new crew members at Newcastle RNLI who will be on call for the first time this Christmas.
As the charity launches its Christmas appeal, Lochlainn and Ciaran Leneghan are preparing to swap turkey and pudding for turbulent seas if their pagers sounds and there is an emergency on the water. The brothers are urging people across county Down – home to stations at Bangor, Donaghadee, Portaferry, Kilkeel and Newcastle - to help their crew and the thousands of other volunteer crews on call over the festivities, to continue their lifesaving work.
Volunteering is very much a family affair for the Leneghan’s and Lochlainn and Ciaran now become the fourth generation to be involved.
They follow in the footsteps of their late great grandfather William James who served as a crew member, their grandfather Mickey who was a Coxswain and their father Kevin who was also part of the crew.
It was during William James’ time on the crew, that he was awarded a bronze medal for gallantry for his part in the rescue of 39 people from the Browning, one of seven ships of a convoy, that ran ashore in a south-easterly gale with very heavy sleet and rain on 21 January 1942.
Declan McClelland and Shannon Gilman make up the new complement of lifeboat crew at Newcastle this year.
Meanwhile, a crew member at Bangor RNLI is looking forward to her first Christmas as a new mother. Katherine Dunlop also followed in family footsteps when she joined the RNLI as her father Myles Lindsay, is former lifeboat crew at the station.
Even when not on call, the family is always alert. Such was the case in October when during her maternity leave, Katherine and her dad spotted what they thought was a boat in trouble off Ballymacormick Point when out for a walk with baby Isla. Katherine immediately let her fellow crew know and soon after Belfast Coastguard requested Bangor RNLI to assess the situation. The lifeboat crew towed the vessel and its three crew to the nearest safe port at Bangor Marina.
For Katherine, it was the family’s combined lifeboating experience that sprung them into action: ‘With our RNLI training, Dad and I just had the sense that something wasn't right, and we were delighted that we were able to help bring the passengers and the boat to safety.’
Looking ahead to her first Christmas as a new mother, Katherine says it will be a special one: ‘It has been a busy year, having Isla at the start of the year, and moving into a new house last month. We are having Christmas dinner at our new house so I'm most looking forward to bringing our two families together and finally hosting my first Christmas dinner.’
Like Lochlainn, Ciaran and Katherine, thousands of volunteer crew members around Ireland and the UK, sign up to save every one from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824.
This Christmas many will leave their loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble on the water safely returned. Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period. But 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.
Lochlainn says: ‘This is my first Christmas on call and I know even over the festive period, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather can be at its worst and lives can be on the line.
‘We know that every time our crews go out they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case. We hope that this year’s Christmas appeal will show people just how tough it can be, but also that with their help 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
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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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