The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) will see its volunteer lifeboat crews across Donegal and the rest of Ireland 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.
This year saw Bundoran RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Daimon Fergus (pictured above) take charge of the lifeboat station, after many years volunteering on the lifeboat.
As he faces into a festive season on call for the lifeboat, he knows that being part of the lifeboat community does not begin and end with the callout.
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.
Daimon Fergus is a volunteer in charge of the day to day running of Bundoran RNLI, having taken over the position in April of this year.
After spending 26 years in a variety of roles, including shore crew and lifeboat crew, before progressing onto Helm, he is all too aware of the men and women who will be carrying a pager with them this Christmas, ready to drop everything and rush to answer a call for help on the water.
In reflecting on his fist Christmas as Lifeboat Operations Manager for Bundoran RNLI, Daimon remembers a December callout back in 1998 where two brothers who went out surfing off Tullaghan were saved when their boards broke and they got into serious difficulty. The conditions on the day were extremely challenging for the lifeboat crew and Daimon along with two lifeboat colleagues saved the lives of the two surfers.
Speaking of the callout he said, ‘That day was the first time I blessed myself before launching the lifeboat. Looking out at the conditions, I knew every second counted. After the callout I learned they were brothers from Letterkenny and I think now, what that could have done to a family, to lose two brothers. Every year we get a Christmas card and a donation from the family and it means so much. Nobody volunteers for the lifeboat for thanks but that contact every year, reminds me why we do it.
“I’m now in a position where I decide if conditions are safe for the capabilities of the lifeboat to launch into and I’m responsible for the wellbeing of the men and women who give their time to volunteer for the lifeboat, to search and to rescue those in trouble at sea. It’s a huge privilege and I bring my 25 years plus of experience and knowing what the sea can do. What people don’t realise is that there is so much training that goes on behind the scenes and debriefing after difficult callouts.’
“We are a charity and every cent we receive goes to support the work we do saving lives at sea. We are so grateful for that support, which helps fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round. 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.’
The RNLI has launched its Christmas appeal, as the charity asks for help to continue its lifesaving work at sea.
To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit: RNLI.org/Xmas
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.