Exmouth RNLI volunteers on call to save lives this Christmas

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will see hundreds of its volunteer lifeboat crews sacrifice time with their loved ones to save others this Christmas, as 2021 figures show an increase in the number of lives saved during the festive season.

RNLI

Exmouth RNLI lifeboat at dusk

Last Christmas (24 December 2021–1 January 2022), RNLI lifeboat crews across the UK and Ireland saved the lives of eight people, the highest number recorded in five years. The charity’s volunteer crews aided 88 people during the festive period in 2021, which is an 87% increase from 2020 and the highest number recorded since 2018. The latest figures come as the RNLI seeks support for its Christmas Appeal to save every one.

Each year RNLI volunteers are prepared to leave their loved ones to save others at Christmas, including Exmouth RNLI.

Figures show that the crew at Exmouth Lifeboat Station have launched each year during the Christmas period since 2017, with a total of 14 launches and seven people aided over the five-year period*.

Lifeboat crew member, Geoff Mills, experienced his first Christmas on call last year saying that ‘it’s an incredible feeling being there for those who need help’.

Geoff is an all-weather lifeboat (ALB) and inshore lifeboat (ILB) crew member at Exmouth RNLI. Along with many other RNLI volunteers, he is due to be on call this New Year’s.

As Geoff recalls his first New Year’s Eve rescue, he says: ‘there’s a joy in helping other people despite what time of year it is’. The rescue, which took place in 2021, involved two adults, a 6-year-old child and a dog. Geoff shares:

‘On New Year’s Eve, my pager went off as I was out shopping with my wife. I had to drop everything, leave my wife, and run to the station, where we launched the inshore lifeboat following reports of two adults, a child and a dog cut off by the tide at Orcombe Point in Exmouth.

‘When we arrived on scene, there was about 10ft of beach left and the tide was high. The family were going to be in serious trouble if they couldn’t get off the beach, as it was going to be under metres of water in a matter of time.

‘It was a challenging rescue as weather conditions were rough. The all-weather lifeboat had to be requested to ensure the rescue was conducted safely. We transferred the mother and child first onto the ALB, followed by the father and dog, which proved to be quite tricky in rough conditions, but we did it.

‘Thankfully, the family returned safely to shore, and were able to celebrate the New Year together.’

Previous figures highlight that New Year’s Eve is a common day for callouts at Exmouth RNLI, as the lifeboat crew launched on this day in 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2021, often to incidents involving walkers getting cut off by the tide.

Winter can be one of the most challenging times to be a lifeboat volunteer with shorter days and the worst weather conditions of the year. But the dedication and courage shown by RNLI lifesavers means that, when the call to rescue comes in, they are ready and willing to head out. No matter if it’s the middle of a dark winter’s night, or in freezing sub-zero temperatures.

The RNLI provides a lifesaving service using volunteers wherever possible, with voluntary donations supplying the funds needed to do so. To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit: RNLI.org/Xmas

The RNLI encourage those visiting coastal areas this Christmas to:

· Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks.

· If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about.

· In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

ENDS

Notes to editors

· The Christmas period refers to 24 December to 1 January.

· Lifeboat crews are ready to launch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and Christmas is no exception. Over the last five years*, RNLI lifesavers have aided over 350 people, saved 18 lives, launched 619 times, and have spent over 840 hours at sea during the holiday season.

· *The five-year period is from 2017 to 2021.

· Interview with Geoff Mills is available upon request.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Oliver Wrynne-Simpson, RNLI National Media Manager, on 07795127351 or Chloe Barr, RNLI National Media Engagement Placement, on 07790772788 or contact the National Press Office on 01202 336789.

RNLI online

For more information, please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the RNLI News Centre.

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.

RNLI/Geoff Mills

Geoff Mills, lifeboat crew member at Exmouth RNLI.

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.

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