Wirral mum answers RNLI Mayday call as figures reveal a 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 in Cumbria, Lancashire and the Wirral has increased by nearly 30 per cent.

RNLI/David Edwards

The crew of West Kirby meet with Leah Hunt and grandchildren Archie, nine, Kael, seven and five year old Neala.

In 2021 lifeboat crews from West Kirby to Silloth saved the lives of 22 people, compared with 17 the previous year.

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.

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 those who helped to save her son Lewis, during an incident which tragically took the life of her youngest boy Sam 10 years ago.

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, a pupil at University Academy in Birkenhead, 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. She is encouraging people to join them on the walk of four, eight or 12 miles along the Wirral Coastal path from New Brighton to Thurstaston. Anyone wishing to take part in the event can join the RNLI team here: https://rnli.enthuse.com/pf/wirral-coastal-walk.

Leah says:

‘I’ve always lived on the Wirral peninsula and I can honestly say, until I needed them, I never really gave the RNLI a second thought. 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. I’m so very much looking forward to getting to know our local Wirral crews and showing them how grateful we are to them all for what they do.

‘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.’

Leah is also organising an event on Mayday which will raise funds for the RNLI. The Sam Capper Memorial Day will take place on Sunday, May 1 at Victoria Park Cricket Club in Rock Ferry from 12pm.

In the North West, the number of people aided by RNLI crews last year was 230.

To show your support for RNLI crews, 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.

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


Notes to Editors

Broadcast quality interviews are available.

Individual station launch statistics for 2021 are 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

The crew of West Kirby meet with Leah Hunt and grandchildren Archie, nine, Kael, seven and five year old Neala.

RNLI/David Edwards

West Kirby crew member Adie Gregan with Archie Hunt

RNLI/David Edwards

West Kirby crew member Adie Gregan with Neala Hunt

RNLI/David Edwards

Archie, nine, Kael, seven and five year old Neala Hunt.

RNLI/David Edwards

Leah Hunt at West Kirby

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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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.