The Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s (RNLI) shop at Bude Lifeboat Station will once again 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.
Just like the charity’s lifeboat crews, the RNLI’s retail team is made up of passionate volunteers who are willing to give up their time to save lives at sea. For one dedicated shop volunteer in Bude, Christmas is no exception.
This Christmas, when many of us will be enjoying the festive fun with our families, RNLI shop volunteer Heather Jones will be spending her ninth Christmas Day volunteering at the charity’s shop at Bude Lifeboat Station.
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 also 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’s 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:
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.