Wicklow RNLI mechanic looking forward to first Christmas on call

Lifeboats News Release

Being a part of the RNLI is a real family affair in Wicklow.


Wicklow RNLI mechanic Peter Byrne
While crew member Peter Byrne is looking forward to his first Christmas on call since becoming the station’s new mechanic in August, his partner Rachel who sits on the committee of the fundraising branch will be busy supporting the team as they look after the sale of Christmas cards, calendars and other RNLI souvenirs which always prove popular at this time of year.

As the charity launches its Christmas appeal asking for the public’s help to continue its lifesaving work at sea, Peter will be among the wider station teams both at Wicklow and Arklow RNLI who will be prepared to drop their own Christmas festivities this year if the pager sounds.

But for the mechanic who fell in love with everything RNLI and lifeboat related since joining the crew at Wicklow three years ago, being on duty is something Peter will relish and should that call come at Christmas, he like hundreds of other volunteers around Ireland, who sign up to save every one from drowning, will reap the reward of being able to give back, having helped someone in need.

In fact, he swapped his day job of 24 years as a full-time electrician to take on the full-time station mechanic role when long serving mechanic Brendan Copeland retired earlier this year. Among his many duties, Peter carries out routine maintenance of the station’s Shannon class lifeboat and its launch and recovery equipment.

‘I fell in love with the RNLI when I joined as crew, and I know it sounds like a cliché, but I really do enjoy a bit of everything that is involved with being the mechanic for the station. Brendan took me under his wing in April before he retired, and I worked through all my training from then until August when I became a fully-fledged all-weather lifeboat mechanic. During that time, I was impressed and indebted to the volunteer mechanics who dedicated their time to the lifeboat ensuring it was on service at all times until I fully transitioned into the role.

‘I love that we can save lives or bring someone to safety. I love that the mechanic role allows me to be hands on with the lifeboat and I love being a part of the team, part of the crew. And through my involvement, my partner Rachel signed up to be a volunteer and is now an active member of the Wicklow RNLI fundraising branch.’

Meanwhile, at Arklow RNLI, there are four new crew members looking forward to their first Christmas on call since passing out of their training period. They are Josh McAnaspie, Cillian Kavanagh, Marc Palmer and Ken O’Toole.

This Christmas they like Peter 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 alone, lifeboats across the island launched 1,078 times, with volunteer crews bringing 1,485 people to safety, 21 of whom were lives saved.

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.

Peter 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. 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



Arklow RNLI new recruits Marc Palmer, Ken O’Toole, Cillian Kavanagh and Josh McAnaspie

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.