Dedicated RNLI volunteer to spend ninth Christmas volunteering at charity’s shop

Lifeboats News Release

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) shop at Bude Lifeboat Station will open its doors this Christmas Day thanks to the dedication of one volunteer who, for nine years, has swapped turkey for tills to help the charity’s lifesaving mission.

Lynda Howard

Heather Jones and Andrew Barnard at Bude RNLI Shop

Just like the charity’s lifeboat crews, the RNLI’s retail team have dedicated volunteers who are willing to give time to save lives at sea and for one shop volunteer, Christmas is no exception.

Heather Jones is a RNLI shop volunteer at Bude Lifeboat Station and this Christmas, when many of us will be enjoying the festive fun with our families, she will be spending her ninth Christmas Day volunteering at the charity’s shop.

Heather, who has been an RNLI shop volunteer for 22 years, discovered her passion for volunteering from her father. She shared:

‘I’ve always tried to do some sort of voluntary work throughout my life. My father was a great one for helping others, so I’ve tried to follow in his footsteps.’

For Heather, it only feels right to open the shop on Christmas Day as lifeboat volunteers across the UK and Ireland are on hand at Christmas to save every one.

Heather said: ‘Lifeboat volunteers put their own lives at risk to save lives at sea. They are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are ready to leave their loved ones this Christmas to save others.

‘The money we raise at the RNLI shop helps to provide the lifeboat crews with the equipment and training they need to save every one. By visiting a RNLI shop, you can help support them.’

As Heather is about to spend her ninth Christmas Day volunteering at Bude RNLI shop, she reveals how it all started:

‘I don’t have any family nearby and one Christmas Day, I tried to keep myself busy by going for a walk but it wasn’t very satisfying. I didn’t know what to do with myself so I thought, “I may as well walk to the shop and open up” and that’s how it started.’

This year, Heather will be opening the shop alongside fellow volunteer, Andrew Barnard. This will be Andrew’s fifth Christmas volunteering at Bude. Over the years, they have welcomed many visitors into the shop on Christmas Day as Heather revealed:

‘Lots of people come into the shop at Christmas. There are people walking their dogs or going for a Christmas Day swim in the sea. They are usually surprised to see that we’re open.

‘We’re open every day of the year, including Christmas Day so if you’re in the area, pop down and say hello.’

The RNLI provides a lifesaving service using volunteers wherever possible, with voluntary donations supplying the funds needed to do so. RNLI shops are run by volunteers like Heather, and all profits help the charity to continue saving lives at sea.

Donate to the RNLI this Christmas and be part of our lifesaving mission to save every one:


Notes to editors

  • Interviews with Heather available upon request.
  • Christmas Day opening hours for Bude RNLI Shop: 11am – 3pm.
  • Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the Christmas period. During that time the charity’s crews have helped over 600 people.
RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Chloe Barr, National Media Engagement Placement on 07790772788 or [email protected], or contact the National Press Office on 01202 336789.

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.