Kilrush RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager preparing for her first Christmas on call

Nine months into her role as Lifeboat Operations Manager at Kilrush RNLI, Shawna Johnson is preparing for her first Christmas on call since taking up the management of the station.

Kilrush RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Shawna Johnson

Photo: RNLI

Kilrush RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Shawna Johnson

As the charity launches its Christmas appeal, Shawna who has been volunteering with Kilrush RNLI since 2013, is preparing her crew to swap their turkey and pudding for the cold waters of the sea should the call for help come in. She is urging the public to help her crew and the thousands of other volunteer crews carrying pagers over the Christmas period, to continue their lifesaving work.

As Lifeboat Operations Manager, Shawna is responsible for all operational activities at the lifeboat station including authorising the launch of the inshore lifeboat and the day-to-day management of the station.

‘I was appointed to the role in April and had to hit the ground running with three call outs in my first week,’ Shawna explains. ‘Thankfully, all were successful with the crew towing two boats and their crews to safety and coming to the aid of a kayaker who had got into difficulty. That first week was nerve-wracking because while I had been a crew member on the lifeboat and then a Deputy Launching Authority, this was the first time I was the station manager with responsibility for everyone and everything. However, once I got the first call out out of the way, I knew I could do this.’

Like Shawna, 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.

Shawna says: ‘This is my first Christmas on call as Lifeboat Operations Manager, 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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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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