Salcombe 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 and New Year, as 2021 figures show an increase in the number of lives saved during the festive season.

RNLI/David Dancox

James Fearn, RNLI Salcombe volunteer - deputy second coxswain

Throughout the Christmas period last year, which ranges from 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 also aided 88 people, 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 everyone.

Each year RNLI volunteers are prepared to leave their loved ones during Christmas and New Year celebrations to save others who may be in danger, including James Fern, who was one of the crew of 23 in Salcombe who responded to his pager on 28 December 2021.

On 28 December last year, Salcombe volunteer lifeboat crew, along with other emergency services, were tasked to an incident off Burgh Island involving a kite surfer who had got into difficulty. Whilst the lifeboat was on route to the incident, reports of additional people in the water started to filter through from the Coastguard.

Once they had arrived at the scene, it became apparent that there was only one casualty in immediate danger and the best way to extract them was via helicopter, so the 924 was tasked by the Coastguard to winch the casualty to safety and return them to the beach. Salcombe RNLI were then stood down and returned to the station.

Volunteer Deputy Second Coxswain, James Fearn, shares his feelings regarding Christmas with the RNLI and being at the end of his pager:

‘Having been a volunteer crew member at Salcombe for 22 years you tend to accept that when you’re involved with the RNLI, getting a call at any time is just a way of life and becomes the norm.

‘Having said that, a shout around Christmas will always tug on the heart strings, not just because you are leaving family and friends behind, but it means somebody somewhere is having a tough time. It’s nice to know that hopefully with our help, we can make their Christmas a little happier.’

Salcombe RNLI has an All Weather Lifeboat (ALB) and an in-shore Lifeboat (ILB) and James, along with many other RNLI volunteers, is due to be on call throughout the entire festive season again this year.

Lucy Ashton, Regional Engagement Manager at the RNLI, said: ‘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.

‘But 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, at Christmas and all year round.’

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 pager goes off and the call to rescue comes in, they are ready and willing to leave their homes, often in the middle of the night, leaving their families behind.

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, please visit: RNLI.org/Xmas

The RNLI encourage those visiting coastal areas this Christmas to:

· Check the weather forecast, local 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 and Float

· 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 festive season

· *The five-year period is from 2017 to 2021 (inclusive)

· Please see attached photos of James Fearn

· Interviews with James are available upon request

· To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal please visit: RNLI.org/Xmas

RNLI media contacts

For media enquiries please contact Becky Bright, RNLI Media Engagement Placement (south west) on 07929 673281 or [email protected] or Emily Hazard, Regional Media Officer on 07866 064437 or [email protected]. Alternatively, please contact the RNLI 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.

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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