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RNLI in Wales issues Mayday call as new figures reveal busy year for rescuers

Lifeboats News Release

The latest figures released today by the RNLI have revealed the number of lives saved by RNLI crews from Flint to Penarth has increased by 22 per cent in 2021. In Wales, volunteer lifeboat crews saved 45 lives in 2021 compared with 37 in 2020.

In addition, there were 1,057 lifeboat launches, compared with 918 in 2020 – a 15 per cent increase. The number of people aided by RNLI crews rose from 989 in 2020 to 1,130 in 2021 – a rise of 14 per cent. With demand for its lifesaving services at a high and the continued popularity of staycations, the charity is putting out its own ‘Mayday’ call.

The RNLI is urging the public to take part in the Mayday Mile, to raise essential funds to provide vital training and equipment to keep their lifesavers safe, while they risk their lives to save others.

An tragic incident at Llangennith almost a decade ago, where school boy Sam Capper tragically lost his life, has inspired a loving grandmother to put her best foot forward for the RNLI this Mayday, in tribute to the Burry Port RNLI volunteers who answered the call for help.

Leah Hunt, a police officer from Birkenhead, has officially launch this year’s Mayday Mile fundraiser by meeting her local RNLI crew at West Kirby for the first time, and revealing details of her own Mayday walking challenge on 22 May. Leah says the figures released today serve a stark reminder of why the RNLI is such a vital charity.

She is calling on people to support Mayday and raise funds for crews, such as the Burry Port RNLI crew who helped to save her son Lewis, during an incident which tragically took the life of her youngest boy Sam.

Sam Capper, aged 15, from Rock Ferry died in hospital after falling into the sea when a wave hit him in Llangennith, Swansea, in 2012. His older brother Lewis, now 31, jumped in after Sam and held onto him before being rescued by an RAF rescue helicopter and Burry Port RNLI lifeboat.

To support Mayday, Leah will take part in the Wirral Coastal Walk on 22 May along with Lewis’ three children Archie, nine, Kael, seven and five year old Neala. All will be wearing yellow wellies as a tribute to RNLI crews across the UK and Ireland who are prepared to drop everything should the call for help comes.

Leah says:

‘Before losing Sam, I now realise these people had never entered my mind, but were there for my family when I needed them most and to think that volunteers would risk their own safety for my family is just incredible and I am eternally grateful.

‘This walk is certainly not about me, but about keeping Sam’s memory alive. On the 10th anniversary of his passing - it’s more important to me than ever to see his legacy live on in such a positive way. I would do anything for the RNLI and the walk is just one of the ways I want to say thank you. We regularly visit Burry Port and they have made us feel part of their family and I’m so grateful for that.

‘Although the tragedy of losing Sam will never go away, they gave me back my son Lewis and I will be forever in their debt for that. I’m really looking forward to walking the Wirral Coastal Path for Mayday and will be chatting with my grandchildren about the uncle they never got to meet.’

The busiest station in Wales during 2021 was The Mumbles where lifeboats launched 95 times and assisted 143 people. This is followed by Tenby where lifeboats launched 78 times and aided 36 people. It was the Porthcawl RNLI who saved the most lives during 2021, with 11 people still alive today thanks to the volunteer crew.

In North Wales, it was an exceptionally busy year for the Rhyl RNLI, with crew launching one of their two lifeboats 74 times and assisting 89 people.

Events are taking place across Wales to support the RNLI fundraiser whereby people are invited to walk, jog, hop or skip. The Mayday Mile which challenges you to cover at least one mile in any way you like between Saturday 1st and Tuesday 31st May, whilst raising vital funds for RNLI lifesavers so that they can continue to keep people safe at sea.

At Tenby, RNLI supporters are being invited to sign up to a virtual ramble and Penarth RNLI will also be hosting a sponsored walk on 1 May.

Crew and supporters of Porthcawl RNLI are calling on locals to join a walk on 1 May and chose either a five, 10 or 15KM challenges to raise funds. More information can be found here:

A yellow welly walk will also take place in Penarth on 30 April.

Faye Maher, RNLI Engagement Lead for Wales says:

‘Last year was an exceptionally busy one for our crews across Wales, but our volunteers would not be able to continue saving lives without the generous support of the public. With the increased popularity of the Welsh coastline, we’re expecting a busy summer and are so grateful to all those who have answered our Mayday plea. It’s exciting to see details of all the events flowing in and I hope people enjoy taking part whilst raising much-needed funds to help us continue saving lives.’

In North Wales, Rhyl RNLI fundraisers will host a Duck Race at Dyserth Waterfalls on Monday 2 May from midday.

At Holyhead Lifeboat Station, motorists can pop in and have their vehicle cleaned during a charity car wash on 14 May between 10am – 2pm.

Crew members from Pwllheli RNLI are taking part in their local Parkrun (5km challenge) along the beach on Saturday, 7 May to raise awareness and funds.

Colwyn Bay are hosting a dog walk (with or without a dog) on Thursday, 12 May meeting at Aberhod Slipway at 2pm.

The Mayday Mile will be running from Saturday 1 May to Tuesday 31 May. Sign up and find out more at today.

Anyone wishing to support Leah’s challenge, can find out more here:

Notes to Editors

Broadcast quality footage of Leah Hunt launching Mayday paying tribute to the Burry Port RNLI crew is available.

RNLI media contacts

For more information, please contact Danielle Rush, RNLI Media Relations Manager in Wales and the North West on 07886 668829. Alternatively, please call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336 789 or email [email protected].

RNLI/David Edwards

Leah and her grandchildren with the West Kirby RNLI crew

RNLI/David Edwards

Leah and her grandchildren with the West Kirby RNLI crew

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.