Howth RNLI father and daughter lifesaving team help launch Christmas appeal as charity seeks support to save every one

A father and daughter who volunteer to save lives at sea with Howth RNLI and who will be on call over Christmas have asked the public to support the charity’s Christmas appeal.

Father and Daughter RNLI volunteers standing by lifeboat outside Howth lifeboat station

Photo: RNLI

Stephen and Jen Harris

Stephen Harris has been a Deputy Launching Authority at the station since 2014 while his daughter Jen joined a month before the first lockdown. The busy lifeboat station has remained on call throughout the pandemic and the lifeboat crew will be ready to launch the lifeboats, as always, if they are needed.

With over 1,500 lifeboat volunteers around Ireland, each RNLI crew member signs up to save everyone 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.

Having returned from 6 months studying abroad in New Zealand Jen Harris joined the lifeboat crew in February 2020 only to see her training halted as the country went into lockdown.  However, she stayed involved doing what training she could on land while the experienced lifeboat crew continued to respond to emergencies. When training restarted, she continued with her training plan and is now well on the way to being a fully-fledged lifeboat volunteer. No stranger to the water, Jen was a sailing and powerboat instructor when she was younger. On her return home to Ireland, she approached her dad about volunteering with the RNLI and had a chat to the lifeboat crew. She is currently trainee crew on Howth inshore lifeboat and is looking to be lifeboat crew on the All-Weather Lifeboat too.  She is proudly following in her father Stephen’s footsteps as he was lifeboat crew in Dun Laoghaire from 1985 to 1987.

Talking about her reason for volunteering with the RNLI Jen said, ‘I had been thinking about joining the lifeboat crew for a while. I’ve grown up around boats and I know how important the service the RNLI provides is to the community. The training I am undergoing is intense and it should be. It’s a massive commitment and one I’m happy to give and of course dad loves that I’m involved. The kit that we have and the level of training we receive is so impressive and it’s funded by generous donations. People can see where the money they give goes. There is a big orange boat sitting in the harbour and that’s our office. Everything we have is thanks to people supporting the charity.’

Dad Stephen is rightly proud of his daughter but it’s not surprising as they are two of a total of eight family members involved in the RNLI, with cousins at Dunmore East in County Waterford and Kilkeel in County Down. Stephen was lifeboat crew at Dun Laoghaire RNLI for three years before he moved away to Clontarf. Now living in Howth he was approached to join the station by the former Lifeboat Operations Manager Rupert Jeffares and joined as a Deputy Launching Authority.

Commenting on the Christmas appeal Stephen said, ‘The rescues we do 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. This year my daughter is on the crew and will be out on rescues soon. Since I was a lifeboat volunteer, I’ve seen the RNLI’s equipment and lifeboat technology advance and evolve, keeping the lifesavers safe and helping them reach the casualties quickly. I’m proud to be involved and now a proud father of a lifesaver too.’

To donate to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit: RNLI.org/Xmas

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact Niamh Stephenson, RNLI Regional Media Manager Tel: 00353 87 1254 124 email: [email protected] or Nuala McAloon, RNLI Regional Media Officer Tel: 00353 87 648 3547 email: [email protected]

 
Older picture of Stephen Harris on the Howth DLA

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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For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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.