Six Galway RNLI crew members carrying pagers for the first time this Christmas

Lifeboats News Release

Six crew members will be carrying pagers for the first time this Christmas at Galway RNLI.

RNLI/Galway

Aaron Connolly

As the charity launches its Christmas appeal asking for help to continue its lifesaving work at sea, Aaron O'Reilly, James Corballis, Aaron Connolly, Sean McLoughlin, Ian Claxton and Shane Austin will be among the lifeboat crew preparing to drop their festive plans and go to the aid of someone in need if their pager sounds over the Christmas period.

Like hundreds of volunteers around Ireland, they have signed up to save every one from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824. Indeed, 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, lifeboats launched a total of 1,078 times across the island with volunteer crews bringing 1,485 people to safety, 21 of whom were lives saved. In Galway, lifeboats at Clifden, the Aran Islands and Galway launched 56 times bringing 77 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.

Galway RNLI crew member Ian Claxton is originally from Dublin but has lived in Galway city for 15 years. A father of four, it was his love of the ocean that drew him to the RNLI two years ago: ‘I was a lifeguard when I was younger and I am an experienced sea swimmer and was part of a team that swam around the Island of Ireland in 2006 raising €70,000 for the RNLI. I also coach with the Blue Fin swimming club and am a member of Galway’s vibrant open water swimming community so I wanted to give something back and do something that could make an impact within the community.’

While Ian joined the crew in 2020, due to the pandemic and the impact on training and assessments, it wasn’t until this year that he received his pager.

‘It has been a great experience and I have learned a lot,’ he continued. ‘I didn’t have much experience previously around boats as I was more in the water than on it, but the RNLI training has been exceptional, and I am always learning something new. I have been on two call outs to date and have found that there is a great bond between the crew when you are on the lifeboat. It’s exciting as the adrenalin kicks in and then the training kicks which makes everyone feel safe and in control and there is always a lot of communication happening between crew on the lifeboat and the station which is great.

‘I love being a part of the RNLI, it is a real family, and I am relishing the opportunity that comes with being part of an important organisation that provides such an essential lifesaving service within the Galway community. I love that I can share this experience with my children who can see what is involved with volunteering and the dedication and commitment that is required of those who help at the station, they are proud, and I believe they will get involved too when they are old enough.’

While Ian can’t go on a call at night just yet, he will be on call during the day over Christmas: ‘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

Ends

Photo Details

Pictured from left on the Galway RNLI lifeboat are Aaron O'Reilly, James Corballis, Aaron Connolly, Sean McLoughlin, and Shane Austin. Missing from the group photo is Ian Claxton.

RNLI/Galway

Aaron O'Reilly

RNLI/Galway

Ian Claxton

RNLI/Galway

James Corballis

RNLI/Galway

Sean McLoughlin

RNLI/Galway

Shane Austin

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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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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