Ballygally open water swimmers caught in rip current raise £1,000 for Larne RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

A group of open water swimmers who got caught in a rip current have raised over £1000 for Larne RNLI.

RNLI/Nuala McAloon

The Chilli Dippers present Larne RNLI with over £1,000

The volunteer lifeboat crew were requested to assist swimmers caught in a rip current at Ballygally beach in late March. The swimmers were safely recovered to the shore before action was required by the station’s lifeboats, but following the incident, the swimmers at Ballygally Chilli Dippers Open Water Swimming Group felt they would like to do their bit to help the charity.

On Sunday last (23 May), some of Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew along with Lifeboat Operations Manager Allan Dorman and members of the fundraising team, went to Ballygally Beach where a cheque was presented for £1,016 by the Chilli Dippers.

Recalling the events from March, Sharon Hamilton of the swimming group said: ‘The sea conditions changed very quickly that evening and within seconds of going in, a few of us were taken out to sea and out of our depth by a rip current. We all had our floats and to begin with we were within our depths. Our intention that evening was to have a quick swim, however once we were caught in the current the fight was too much for us to get back to shore. Luckily help came just in time.’

Speaking about the increase in open water swimming, Sharon said: ‘The pandemic and lockdown has sent lots of us running to the sea for therapy and exercise, but safety needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Never swim alone, use a float, carry a whistle and check tide times and learn how to spot a rip current. Thankfully the fast-acting members of the Chilli Dippers, pulled together and got everyone safely back to the shore just as the RNLI were launching.

‘The response I got from my Facebook post, highlighting the need for sea safety was overwhelming, so I decided to turn it around and ask for a small donation from anyone who had liked or shared the post. The response was amazing and a grand total of £1,016 was raised within a week.’

The fundraising efforts of the Chilli Dippers comes at a time when the RNLI is asking for donations as part of its annual Mayday fundraising campaign.

Allan Dorman, Larne RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘We are so grateful to Sharon and all the Chilli Dippers for thinking of us, raising much needed funds to help us to continue to save lives at sea, all while spreading the importance of water safety as well.’

There is still time to take part in with the Mayday Mile. Walk, run, cycle, or cover one mile however you would like and then donate online to the RNLI at RNLI.org/supportMayday.

ENDS

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Steven Lee, Larne RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07753274490 or steven_lee_1986@hotmail.com or Nuala McAloon, Regional Media Officer on 00353 876483547 or Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Niamh Stephenson, Regional Media Manager on 00353 871254124 or Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk

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 over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, 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.