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Appledore RNLI volunteers remain on call over festive season

Lifeboats News Release

Each year RNLI volunteers across the south west are prepared to leave their loved ones during the festive season* to save others who may be in danger.

Appledore RNLI volunteer Rosco Coburn

RNLI/Alex Hall

Appledore RNLI volunteer Rosco Coburn

Appledore crew member Rosco Coburn was one of 18 volunteers from the station who responded to their pager on New Year’s Day this year (Saturday 1 January 2022).

Rosco, remains on call again throughout the festive season, along with many thousands of other RNLI volunteers.

‘It’s not always nice seeing the look on your family’s face when the pager goes and you must drop everything,' he said. 'It’s especially hard on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and anytime around Christmas.

‘Throughout the Christmas and New Year period we understand it could be a very busy time for us, with people hoping to get to the coast to walk off their Christmas dinners or have a sea swim in the cold water.’

Throughout the festive period last year, 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 every one.

RNLI figures show that during the festive period over the past five years, the volunteer crew at Appledore RNLI have launched nine times.

On New Year’s Day this year (2022), the volunteer lifeboat crew, along with other emergency services, were tasked to an incident involving a lady who had fallen at Crowe Point, across the Torridge Taw estuary from the lifeboat station, with a suspected spinal injury.

The lady was enjoying a New Year’s Day walk on the beach with her dogs and family when she tripped over a hidden log and fell awkwardly and with force on the base of her spine. She was in a lot of pain and couldn’t move so the family dialled 999 and asked for the Coastguard.

Appledore RNLI lifeboats** were launched across the estuary to assess the condition of the casualty. She was experiencing severe pain in her lower back, which the crew were concerned may be broken. The two-metre swell surging close to shore coupled with an incoming tide, meant extraction from the beach by lifeboat was not the safest option so a rescue helicopter was requested.

While waiting, the RNLI crew provided reassurance and casualty care and made sure the lady was comfortable and stable.

The rescue helicopter arrived promptly at the beach, as well as a nearby land ambulance, but due to the remote location, airlifting the casualty across the dunes to the land ambulance a couple of miles away, was the safest option.

After assisting their emergency services colleagues and happy the lady was receiving the treatment needed, the lifeboat crew returned to the station at 7pm that evening.

Recalling the shout, Rosco said: ‘We had all just sat down to watch a film together as a family when the pager went off. I gave them all a kiss and said hopefully I’ll be back for the rest of the film.

‘Then you respond to your pager and focus on the task ahead, all the training you have put in comes to life helping you to work together as a team to potentially save someone’s life – that is what makes the decision to carry a pager very rewarding and without question.’

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.’

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:

The RNLI encourage those visiting coastal areas this Christmas to:

  1. Check the weather forecast, local tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks
  2. If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about and Float
  3. In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard

Notes to editors

  1. The Christmas period refers to 24 December to 1 January
  2. 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
  3. *The five-year period is from 2017 to 2021 (inclusive)
  4. **Appledore RNLI has an all-weather lifeboat (ALB), an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat (ILB) and a D-class inshore lifeboat used as the boarding boat for the ALB as well as any incidents in the estuary
  5. Please see attached photos of Rosco Coburn taken by crew member Alex Hall
  6. Interviews with Rosco Coburn are available upon request
  7. To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal please visit:

RNLI media contacts

For media enquiries please contact Amy Caldwell, Regional Media Manager on 07920 818807 or [email protected] or the RNLI 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.