Lifeboat volunteers praised for postponing Christmas celebrations to save lives

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Carl Bennett

By Carl Bennett

Published: 31/12/2021

- 18:05

Updated: 14/02/2023

- 11:43

Thousands of volunteers who make up the crews of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution worked throughout the festive period to save multiple lives.

Lifeboat volunteers have been praised for postponing their Christmas celebrations to help rescue people at sea.

Thousands of volunteers who make up the crews of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) worked throughout the festive period to save multiple lives.

On Christmas Eve, when many of us were busy with last-minute preparations, the crew of Newhaven RNLI in East Sussex were called out to rescue two paragliders who had fallen into the sea.

Despite challenging tidal conditions, the pair were safely brought back to shore and handed into the care of waiting paramedics.

Over 550 miles away, volunteer lifeboat crew members in Bangor, Northern Ireland, were faced with strong winds and high seas as they rushed to the rescue of two swimmers who got into difficulty at Helen’s Bay.

Despite the call coming on Christmas morning, the boat was ready to launch in just five minutes, although one crew member later admitted that they had been wearing their pyjamas under their drysuit.

The Bangor RNLI lifeboat crew, working alongside emergency services, were able to save the two swimmers but not before two volunteers had to enter the water to assist in the “difficult rescue”.

Bryan Lawther, Bangor RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: “It is a testament to the crew’s professionalism, experience and training that the rescue was successful.

“We should also remember that while four crew went out on the boat, another 15 volunteers put their Christmas on hold to help launch the boat, and stayed to help clean down the boat on her return, ready for her next launch.”

Meanwhile, in Walmer, Kent, the volunteer lifeboat crew were called out twice on Christmas Day in a “first for the station”.

Reports came in shortly after 10am of an empty boat drifting out at sea.

The boat was found and towed back to the harbour safely but strong winds meant that a net recovery was needed to get the boat back to station, testing the crew’s skills and teamwork.

Walmer’s volunteers then received reports of a person in the water at around 1.30pm and managed to get a lifeboat on scene in three minutes.

The casualty was revealed to be the body of a sheep but once again crews were tested as wind and sea conditions made for a difficult recovery.

“Two shouts on Christmas Day is a first in my lifeboat career and I think a first for the station… My thanks go to the families and friends of the crew,” said Denis Brophy, Walmer RNLI’s operations manager.

The station’s area lifesaving manager, Allen Head, also praised the team and their families, adding they had shown the “very best of selflessness”.

Over the past decade, RNLI lifeboats have launched over 1,200 times during the festive period.

This New Year many RNLI crew members will again leave their loved ones behind to answer the call to save those in trouble.

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