Fenit RNLI crew member joins father and two uncles on call this Christmas
As the RNLI launches its Christmas appeal asking for help to continue its lifesaving work at sea, 18-year-old Social Science student Eimer McMorrow Moriarty will be one of four family members who will be on call for Fenit RNLI throughout the festive period.
Like hundreds of volunteers around Ireland, Eimer, her father Kevin and uncles John and Billy, have all signed up to save every one from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824. This Christmas many will leave their loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble at sea safely returned.
During the festive period from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day over the last five years from 2017-2021, RNLI lifeboats in the Irish region launched 55 times and brought 43 people to safety.
Last year across the RNLI, lifeboats launched 1,078 times, with volunteer crews bringing 1,485 people to safety, 21 of whom were lives saved. In Kerry, lifeboats at Fenit and Valentia launched 38 times bringing 35 people to safety.
But 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.
Eimer joined the lifeboat crew last year and received her pager in October 2021. Her father Kevin and uncle John are both Coxswains at the station while her uncle Billy is also on the crew. The family ties don’t end there though as her great grandfather on her mother’s side of the family, Tony Browne, was also on the crew. Not only is she third generation, but she is also the first female in her family to become a crew member.
While her first inspiration for joining was her father Kevin who she and her sister grew up watching and admiring as he responded time and time again to his pager, Eimer is also a water sports enthusiast and was keen to contribute and give back to those she knows will help her if she gets into difficulty at sea.
‘I joined as soon as I was eligible at 17,’ Eimer explains. ‘My father has been on the crew for more than 25 years so ever since I was little, growing up as children, my younger sister and I would play lifeboat games and shout ‘lifeboat call out’ when Dad’s pager would go off.
‘Along with my dad, I have my own water sport hobbies so joining was also a personal decision as I know it works both ways. On the lifeboat I can contribute to helping someone in need and when on the water myself, I know if I do get into trouble, the lifeboat will come to me.
A third motivation for Eimer has been a fellow female crew member: ‘Denise Lynch has been another inspiration for me on the lifeboat. Denise is an incredibly knowledgeable woman who became the first female volunteer Coxswain in Ireland back in 2020 which is such a fantastic achievement. I hope that I can follow in her footsteps and become a Coxswain one day too and I am very grateful that I have talented people to learn from.’
A keen windsurfer and sailor, Eimer has been on three call outs since becoming a crew member: ‘My first call out was quite a serious one as the casualty had fallen off the marina steps and we were unsure of her injuries initially. Thankfully, while in shock and showing signs of hypothermia, she was otherwise ok, but I remember as a call out, the experience was intense. There is an adrenalin rush when the pager goes off and when you are trying to get to the station and into your gear as quickly as you can. You always try to prepare for the worst and for the potential that you could be responding to a life and death situation.’
Last Christmas was Eimer’s first Christmas on call and on Christmas Day, she was part of the lifeboat crew who provided safety cover with various other agencies for the annual swim: ‘It was really satisfying to see how things on Christmas Day remain the same, all the emergency services are all still on call, the pager isn’t turned off and everyone is ready.’
Eimer says this Christmas will be no different for the Fenit and Valentia lifeboat crews: ‘Even at Christmas, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather is at its worst and lives are on the line. We know that every time our crews go out they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case.
‘There’s no feeling quite like bringing someone home safe to their families – especially at Christmas. As lifeboat crew we couldn’t rescue people without kind donations from the public which fund the kit, training and equipment we need to save others and get home safely to our families.’
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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