Lifesaving a family affair for Valentia siblings and their father as the RNLI seeks support for Christmas appeal to save every one

A brother and sister who volunteer to save lives at sea with Valentia RNLI have called on the public to support the charity’s Christmas appeal. Dominic and Cornelia Lyne will be on call, along with their colleagues at the Kerry lifeboat station and RNLI volunteers at 45 other lifeboat stations across Ireland, ready to launch at a moment’s notice to save lives.

Siblings Cornelia and Dominic Lyne and their father in RNLI kit

Cornelia and Dominic grew up in a house where the RNLI lifeboat pager going off was a familiar sound. The brother and sister are the children of former volunteer lifeboat crewmember Nealie Lyne, who after 25 years saving lives at sea, is now a Deputy Launching Authority at the station. 

Dominic is what he calls, a RNLI baby. At the age of six he turned up at the station to go on a callout and was gently told he needed to wait a few more years before he could go to sea on the lifeboat. Undeterred, he practiced ropework on land and on his seventeenth birthday, he enrolled on the crew and never looked back.  At that time, his father, his uncle Martin and, unbeknownst to him at that stage, his future wife was also volunteering for the lifeboat. Dominic is also on the mechanics panel for the lifeboat, a position he has held for 24 years for the station’s All-Weather Severn class lifeboat. 

Speaking about why he volunteers for the lifeboat, Dominic said, ‘I’ve been an active crewmember for many years, and you are always part of a team. I was lucky enough to train under some great crew, some who are still there and others who have passed on, but their knowledge will forever stay with me. No two callouts are the same, so training and practice is paramount to ensuring that we all come home safe. Because we are family, once you put on the gear, we are all in it together and we have to ensure we all come home to those waiting for us.  The pandemic changed everything and nothing, the normal dropping into the station for a coffee and a chat was gone but once the pagers went off it was business as usual. The training and courses provided by the RNLI are first rate. This summer that training ensured that myself and a fellow crewmember were able to assist a fisherman with a deep knife wound, we stabilised him until he was airlifted from the scene.’

Cornelia is very proud of being a female crewmember in the RNLI and hopes to inspire other women to join too. The sea has always been in her blood, and she became an instructor for Water Safety Ireland as well as qualifying as a beach and pool lifeguard a few years ago. She has worked on cruise ships and on her father Nealie’s boat during the summer. Cornelia is grateful for the support of the public for the work the lifeboat crews do and what that support gives to the crews in return, ‘Our lifeboat kit is one of the most important things that help keep us safe at sea. We need to be protected from the elements at sea, but it can also get hot inside an all-weather lifeboat and our kit needs to be able to adapt to that. When I started the kit was no different for the men and the women on the crew, my feet are so small that it was a struggle to find a welly that fit. Now the RNLI have kit specially designed for both men and women as we all are different sizes and we need it to move with us and protect us too.’

‘I’m nearly ten years a crew member and I still love it when we have landed home safe after a callout during the summer when there are a lot of tourists around and the kids see me walking up to the boathouse in my full gear and they realise girls can join the crew too. When the pagers go, no lifeboat volunteer hesitates to answer the call, and these rescues would not be possible without the donations from the RNLI's generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training equipment needed by Lifeboat crews all year round. Thank you to everyone who supports the appeal this Christmas.’

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

RNLI media contacts 

For more information, please contact Michelle O’Shea Valentia RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 0879513824 or [email protected] or Niamh Stephenson, RNLI Regional Media Manager Tel: 087 1254 124 email: [email protected] or Nuala McAloon, RNLI Regional Media Officer Tel: 0876483547 email: [email protected]

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

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.