Lymington RNLI volunteers face first Christmas in new roles as charity seeks to save every one
Five crew members at Lymington RNLI lifeboat station are preparing to spend Christmas with their pagers alongside their pudding after taking on new roles with the charity that saves lives at sea.
The station’s Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) Al Mackay only took on the role, which is responsible for managing the entire station, in November this year, but he’s ready to up and leave the festivities at a moment’s notice if an emergency call comes in.
Other crew members prepared to launch over the Christmas holidays include newly qualified helms Declan O’Riordan and Greg Pachany and new shore crew volunteers (who assist in launching and retrieving the lifeboats) Ted Ward and Rob Merrix.
As the RNLI launches its Christmas appeal, Al, who had a career in the RAF before joining the RNLI, is planning to spend Christmas at home with his family, but if the pager goes off he’ll be on his bike and straight down to the lifeboat station. He said it’s more important than ever to support his fellow lifeboat volunteers at this special time of year.
‘Obviously in a way nobody really wants there to be a shout because it means somebody is in trouble,’ said Al. ‘But if somebody needs help, the crew are always happy to go and if that happens to be in the middle of Christmas dinner that doesn’t really matter. They will be down the station just as quickly as they would be normally and with the same sort of spirit and teamwork that we would see at any time of the year’.
Shore crew member Ted Ward, 17, only joined the crew in October this year so this will be his first ever Christmas on call. But he has already had first hand experience of how vital the RNLI can be if you get into difficulty on the water. Three years ago he was out on a dinghy with a friend when it capsized and they needed help urgently:
‘I had a bit of orange on the back of my glove, so I turned my gloves around on my hands and started waving and the ferry actually spotted us and moments after that, the RNLI came shooting out.’
Now he will be one of those ready to go to the rescue of others: ‘I’m yet to get to a shout so I’m really excited. All of my family are really supportive, so you do your duty and come back – whatever I can do to help save lives at sea’.
And what if the call comes during Christmas dinner? ‘I guess that’s all part of the excitement, I’d rather be on pager than off during that day’.
With thousands of volunteers around Ireland and the UK, each RNLI crew member signs up to save every one 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. Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period.
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.
‘We know that every time our crews go out they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case. Through people supporting this year’s Christmas appeal, with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one,’ said Al.
To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit: RNLI.org/Xmas
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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