The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will see its volunteer lifeboat crews sacrifice time with their loved ones to save others this Christmas. As the search and rescue charity launches a Christmas fundraising appeal, the RNLI is highlighting the volunteers who will be on call over Christmas to save lives at sea.
Kilrush couple, Pa Ryan and Liezel Brand, both volunteer on the lifeboat but this Christmas only Pa will be on call as Liezel gave birth to their son Conor, earlier this year. Over the past five years, RNLI lifeboats have launched 55 times in Ireland during the festive period, bringing 44 people to safety.
The RNLI has launched its Christmas lifeboat appeal at RNLI.org/Xmas, as the charity asks for help to continue its lifesaving search and rescue work on Irish waters. With over a thousand lifeboat volunteers around Ireland, each RNLI crewmember signs up to help save every one from drowning, the charity’s mission since 1824.
This Christmas volunteers will be ready to answer the call for help, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble at sea safely returned. Two volunteers with Kilrush RNLI are extra thankful this Christmas, as they welcomed their first child, whom they named Conor. Liezel Brand came to Clare from Robin Island in South Africa and joined the lifeboat crew in 2016. She had a special reason for volunteering, having lost a close family friend to drowning and sadly, their body has never been recovered. She met and fell in love with Pa, a native of Ennis, and they married and settled in Kilrush.
Pa quickly followed Liezel onto the lifeboat crew and was a natural on the water. After welcoming their son earlier this year, Liezel is on a break from the lifeboat, but she is looking forward to being back on the crew when her maternity leave is over. Having both herself and Pa volunteer on the crew is something she is very proud of, and she hopes that their son, may in time, follow his parents into the lifeboat, whether it’s as crew or helping to raise the funds to keep the charity saving lives at sea.
The callouts the couple go on 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.
Commenting on why she volunteers with the RNLI, Liezel said, ‘For me, it is to try and bring a loved one home. Having first-hand experience of losing someone close to me to drowning and not having their body to bring home, it drives me on in my volunteering. When I first joined the lifeboat and I was doing my training, I had a callout which sadly involved a recovery from the water. My training immediately kicked in and I knew what to do. Every person we launch to, is a loved one and our station take that responsibly seriously. It is what I would want for my loved ones.’
‘Pa is on call this Christmas and he has never missed the Christmas day swim. We are a lifeboat family and that community, within our community, is very special. As lifeboat crew 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 to our families. We are so grateful for it.’
The RNLI has launched its Christmas appeal, as the charity asks for help to continue its lifesaving work at sea. Click here to make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal.
The RNLI encourage those visiting coastal areas this Christmas to:
Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks.
If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about.
In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coast Guard.