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Five New Crew Members On Call for the First Time This Christmas at Sligo Bay RNLI

22nd December 2021
From left: Rachel Wirtz, Yvette Carter, Reece Cawley, Caroline Collery and Noah Canham with Sligo Bay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat
From left: Rachel Wirtz, Yvette Carter, Reece Cawley, Caroline Collery and Noah Canham with Sligo Bay RNLI’s inshore lifeboat Credit: RNLI

A busy mother of two young children is among five new volunteers who will be carrying pagers and on call for the first time this Christmas at Sligo Bay RNLI.

As the charity continues its Christmas Appeal, Rachel Wirtz is preparing to swap turkey and pudding and run to the lifeboat station should her pager go off.

She is urging people across Sligo to help her crew, and the thousands of other volunteer crews on call over the Christmas period, to continue their lifesaving work.

Rachel joined the crew over a year ago but due to the pandemic and restrictions, she couldn’t work on completing her assessments face-to-face until this year. While she has been involved in callouts as shore crew, she hasn’t yet made a lifeboat callout to sea.

“The standard and extent of the training has been excellent, and I am learning terrific new skills,” says the mum-of-three who lives in Rosses Point. “There was a rush of adrenaline and excitement rather than apprehension for my first call out. I am excited about being able to contribute and I feel very lucky to be a part of it.”

Among the other new lifeboat crew members at Sligo Bay RNLI are Reece Meldrum and Aisling Murphy, while Noah Canham and Caroline Collery have joined the shore crew. Yvette Carter, meanwhile, will be spending her first Christmas as a lifeboat helm.

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

Rachel adds: “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.”

The four men taking on new roles with Clogherhead RNLI this ChristmasThe four men taking on new roles with Clogherhead RNLI this Christmas

Meanwhile, on the East Coast, Clogherhead RNLI have appointed four people to new lifesaving roles as this Christmas the station stands ready to launch at a moment’s notice to save lives at sea.

Sean Flanagan, a pilot boat coxswain at Dublin Port, and Denis Levins, an officer with P&O Ferries, have been passed out as lifeboat coxswains, while Raymond Butterly has joined the station to become shore crew for launching the station’s impressive Shannon class lifeboat.

Barry Sharkey has also been appointed as the new full-time mechanic for the station, taking over from the retiring Padraig Rath.

The four men helped the charity launch its Christmas appeal at the Co Louth-based lifeboat station and are calling on the public to support the RNLI’s lifesaving work this Christmas, as they remain on call and ready to launch.

“We know that every time our crews go out, they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case,” says Barry, who comes from a well-known local fishing family. “Through people supporting this year’s Christmas appeal, 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, visit RNLI.org/Xmas

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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