RNLI launches Christmas appeal

RNLI launches Christmas appeal

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Lifeboat Operations Manager at Kilrush RNLI, Shawna Johnson.

Nine months into her role as Lifeboat Operations Manager at Kilrush RNLI, Shawna Johnson is preparing for her first Christmas on call since taking up the management of the station.

As the charity launches its Christmas appeal, Shawna who has been volunteering with Kilrush RNLI since 2013, is preparing her crew to swap their turkey and pudding for the cold waters of the sea should the call for help come in. She is urging the public to help her crew and the thousands of other volunteer crews carrying pagers over the Christmas period, to continue their lifesaving work.

As Lifeboat Operations Manager, Shawna is responsible for all operational activities at the lifeboat station including authorising the launch of the inshore lifeboat and the day-to-day management of the station.

‘I was appointed to the role in April and had to hit the ground running with three call outs in my first week,’ Shawna explains. ‘Thankfully, all were successful with the crew towing two boats and their crews to safety and coming to the aid of a kayaker who had got into difficulty. That first week was nerve-wracking because while I had been a crew member on the lifeboat and then a Deputy Launching Authority, this was the first time I was the station manager with responsibility for everyone and everything. However, once I got the first call out out of the way, I knew I could do this.’

Like Shawna, each RNLI crew member signs up to save every one from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824.

Shawna says: ‘This is my first Christmas on call as Lifeboat Operations Manager, and I know even over the festive period, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather can be at its worst and lives can be on the line.

‘We know that every time our crews go out, they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case. We hope that this year’s Christmas appeal will show people just how tough it can be, but also that with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.’

Lough Derg RNLI volunteers Ania Skrzypczynsk and Richard Nolan

 

Over on Lough Derg, a busy mother of one is among five new volunteer crew members who will be on call for the first time this Christmas at Lough Derg RNLI.

Ania Skrzypczynska, a native of Poland, said: “I joined the RNLI because I wanted to become part of the community after moving to Dromineer,’ Ania explains. ‘After the first few training sessions on the lifeboat, I had got to meet really nice, friendly people and found it to be a great experience. Then after passing my first assessment and being allowed to go on the lifeboat, it was like the beginning of an adventure for me.

‘Being a mum of a small and very busy boy, I am restricted with the amount of time I have to spare between my full-time job and family life. However, I know that in the future I will be able to get more involved in the life of the station. I am looking forward to becoming a fully qualified crew member. I like new challenges and I want to channel it towards learning how to help others. And by living so close to Lough Derg, I want to learn more about the lake, it’s beauty and, it’s dangers.

Among the other new crew members at Lough Derg RNLI, are Richard Nolan, Ciara Lynch, Eimear Kelly and Ciara Moylan.

For Richard, his knowledge from youth of the work the RNLI did on the lake was a major influence in his decision to join the crew, but he also found that having lived away from home in London for almost 10 years, it was a good opportunity to re-integrate into his community.

‘With living on the lake, I knew the RNLI would not only give me a network of people, but the skills and knowledge you need regarding safety on the water. I have really enjoyed how volunteering with the RNLI has engaged me and been a beneficial use of my spare time. It has been great to have a set amount of time each month when I can leave work and the personal stresses of life aside and focus on learning and perfecting the skills we as volunteer crew members need to carry out our work.’

Like Ania and Richard, each RNLI crew member signs up to save every one from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824.

This Christmas many will leave their loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble on the water safely returned. Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period. But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.

Richard says: ‘This is my first Christmas on call, and I know even over the festive period, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather can be at its worst and lives can be on the line.

‘We know that every time our crews go out, they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case. We hope that this year’s Christmas appeal will show people just how tough it can be, but also that with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.’

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal click here.

 

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