Father and son among eight new RNLI crew members to carry pagers for their first Christmas on call

A father and son from Bellanaleck are among eight new lifeboat crew members who will carry pagers for the first time this Christmas at Carrybridge and Enniskillen RNLI.

Pictured at Carrybridge RNLI on the lifeboat, are from left, Simon Kidney and John Sammon. Standing from left, are Matthew Nelson, Brian Sammon and Simon Carson

Photo: RNLI

Pictured at Carrybridge RNLI on the lifeboat, are from left, Simon Kidney and John Sammon. Standing from left, are Matthew Nelson, Brian Sammon and Simon Carson. Missing from the picture is Paul McDaid and Cliff Walters.

As the charity launches its Christmas appeal, Brian and John Sammon who are ready to swap turkey and pudding for the December waters of Lough Erne, are urging
people across Fermanagh to help their fellow crew and the thousands of other volunteer crews carrying pagers over the festivities, to continue their lifesaving work.

It was when 19-year-old John became eligible to become a crew member two years ago, that the family duo encouraged each other to join.

Brian explains: ‘I bought my first boat in 1998 and John was then born in 2002. From he was six months he was on the boat, and it wasn’t long after that until he was holding the steering. We had that first boat for 18 years and then purchased a cruiser five years ago and it is moored at the local marina. We both have always adored the water and water sports.

‘I had thought about joining the lifeboat crew at different times over the years because I was so aware of the work of the RNLI and I really wanted to give something back, but it wasn’t until John reached the eligible age at 17 and we saw a recruitment drive for new crew, that we encouraged each other to get involved. We attended an open night and it just snowballed from there.’

Having received their pagers in November, Brian and John are now preparing to hear the beeping sound as the request for help comes in for the first time: ‘We are excited but also nervous at the same time,’ Brian says, ‘but we are here, and we want to help. That is why we joined; we want to support what is an invaluable service on Lough Erne.’

Among the other new crew members at Carrybridge are Simon Kidney, Matthew Nelson, Simon Carson, Paul McDaid and Cliff Walters while Richard McFarland has joined the lifeboat crew at Enniskillen.

Richard who lives in Lisbellaw, has always had a great love for the water but having worked away, he couldn’t commit to joining the lifeboat crew until he returned home.

Each RNLI crew member signs 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.

Richard 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

RNLI media contacts

For more information please contact Nuala McAloon, Regional Media Officer on 00353 876483547 or [email protected] or Niamh Stephenson, Regional Media Manager on 00353 871254124 or [email protected] 

Pictured at Enniskillen RNLI is new crew member Richard McFarland

Photo: RNLI

Pictured at Enniskillen RNLI is new crew member Richard McFarland

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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.