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RNLI appeals for support this Christmas as charity seeks to save every one.

Lifeboats News Release

The RNLI is launching its annual Christmas fundraising appeal, with a focus on the generations of families who have volunteered their time and commitment 24/7, 365 days a year, to ensure the charity’s lifesaving service has continued for nearly 200 years.

RNLI/Lauren Chambers

Karl O'Neill and Jason Chambers

On average, RNLI lifeboats launch over 100 times during the Christmas period* every year. Whatever weather winter throws at them, RNLI crews are ready to battle the elements to save lives at sea. These rescues, and others all year round, are only made possible by the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews.

Christmas is a time for family and, for many, a time for sharing stories of times and generations past. For the Chambers family from Portrush, these stories often involve saving lives at sea.

Jason Chambers and Karl O’Neill are cousins and are following a long line of their family who have served on Portrush Lifeboats.

Karl and Jason’s great grandfather Karl D. Chambers was mechanic at Portrush from 1924 to 1947. Karl had spent 17 years in the Royal Navy serving in destroyers on the North Sea. Gilbert Chambers, Karl’s son had assisted his father in the engine room took over as mechanic in June 1947. Gilbert received two thanks on vellum and a BEM in the Queens Birthday honours in 1975. Gilbert was also second coxswain. Gilbert’s son Derek was then appointed mechanic and coxswain, becoming one of the few fulltime Coxswain/Mechanics in the RNLI. Derek’s brother Anthony succeeded him as mechanic and subsequently as Coxswain/mechanic serving Portrush RNLI for 40 years until his retirement in 2020. Anthony was awarded a bronze medal from the RNLI in recognition of his rescue of two boys who were trapped in a cave at Castlerock in 2010.

Jason Chambers, carrying on the family tradition is a Helm on the D boat and relief mechanic. Karl O’Neill is a deputy Coxswain on the All-Weather Lifeboat and Area Supervisor for the RNLI Lifeguards in Northern Ireland.

Both Karl and Jason said: ‘There’s no feeling quite like bringing someone home safe to their families – especially at Christmas. But as volunteer lifeboat crew we couldn’t launch without kind donations from the public which fund the kit, training and equipment we need to save others and get home safely to our own families.’

We are proud to be carrying on the family tradition serving the community at Portrush RNLI – we like to think they would be very proud’.

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, and enable the charity to continue its lifesaving work, visit:


RNLI/Tim Nelson

Karl O'Neill Anthony and Jason Chambers

RNLI/Nigel Millard

Anthony Chambers

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.