Valentia and Fenit RNLI volunteers facing the Perfect Storm this Christmas

Lifeboats News Release

As Christmas approaches, the RNLI is issuing its own call for help as the charity’s volunteer lifeboat crews are getting busier.

RNLI/Nuala McAloon

Volunteers Liam and Michelle O'Shea

The charity is facing a ‘Perfect Storm’ with more people than ever needing its help, meaning support from the public is more vital than ever.

Last year, Irish lifeboats launched 1,066 times coming to the aid of 1,441 people,19 of whom were lives saved. In Kerry, Valentia RNLI launched 23 times, rescuing 35 while Fenit RNLI launched 18 times bringing 11 people to safety thanks to the direct actions of the lifeboat crew.

To ensure the RNLI can continue its lifesaving work this Christmas and into the future, the charity is running a major fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm.

While many people will be thinking about presents, turkey and time with the family, dedicated RNLI volunteers at 46 lifeboat stations in Ireland will be ensuring their yellow wellies and lifejackets are ready for when the call comes and will be prepared to drop everything at a moment’s notice to save lives.

In many cases, members of the one family will need to abandon their turkey dinner and head to their lifeboat station when the call for help comes in.

This will be no different at Valentia RNLI where many of the crew have young children who will be looking forward to Santa Claus coming and playing their new toys with their parents.

Among the families are recently married crew member Liam O’Shea and wife Michelle who is a Deputy Launching Authority and the station’s Lifeboat Press Officer. They have two children under four. Meanwhile, long serving station mechanic Leo Houlihan will be joined this year by his son Jamie, a trainee crew member who is preparing for his first Christmas on call. Like the rest of the volunteers at Valentia and Fenit RNLI, Leo and Jamie and Liam and Michelle know if the call comes, they will need to be ready to drop everything to help someone in need:

‘Christmas is no different to any other time of year,’ Michelle says, ‘We’ll still be on call ready to save lives and delay our own Christmas celebrations. None of our volunteer team at Valentia will mind doing that, that is what we are here for. It is our hope that no one finds themselves in difficulty in the water this Christmas, but should we be called out, there will be no greater Christmas gift for us than to bring someone to safety.

‘We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the public. The RNLI has experienced a shortfall in funds, but we are rescuing more people than ever before. We are facing the Perfect Storm and are calling on people to make a donation this Christmas to ensure we can continue saving lives at sea.’

To support the RNLI’s Perfect Storm appeal this Christmas, helping to ensure the charity’s brave volunteers can continue saving lives at sea, please visit RNLI.org/ThePerfectStorm

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RNLI media contacts

For more information please Nuala McAloon, Regional Media Officer on 0876483547 or Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Niamh Stephenson, Regional Media Manager on 0871254124 or Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk

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 over 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 or by email.

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