'Unsung heroes': RNLI volunteers praised for postponing festive celebrations to save lives

1 January 2022, 01:22 | Updated: 1 January 2022, 01:26

By Emma Soteriou

Lifeboat volunteers for the RNLI have been praised for their dedication and bravery in helping save lives at sea over the festive period.

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Thousands of volunteers who make up the crews of the institution worked throughout Christmas and the New Year, despite it meaning they were forced to leave loved ones during celebrations.

However, it has not gone unnoticed, with the public as well as RNLI managers acknowledging their efforts.

MP Robert Courts tweeted: "Thank you to all the RNLI volunteers and teams who are on duty all over the Christmas and New Year period, making the seas safe and helping those in need."

Another Twitter user dubbed RNLI volunteers as "unsung heroes" during the festive period.

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The crew of Newhaven RNLI in East Sussex were called out to rescue two paragliders who had fallen into the sea on Christmas Eve, with the pair safely brought back to shore and handed over to paramedics.

On Christmas morning, volunteer lifeboat crew members in Bangor, Northern Ireland rushed to the rescue of two swimmers who got into difficulty at Helen's Bay.

The boat was ready to launch within five minutes, with the crew working alongside emergency services to save the swimmers as part of a "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."

Volunteers have been praised for their work over the festive period
Volunteers have been praised for their work over the festive period. Picture: PA/RNLI

In Kent, the volunteer lifeboat crew were called out twice on Christmas Day in a "first for the station".

An empty boat was found drifting out at sea, which was towed back to the harbour safely.

However, strong winds meant the crew's skills and teamwork were tested.

Volunteers then received reports of a person in the water at around 1.30pm, racing to the scene in three minutes.

The casualty was revealed to be the body of a sheep but, once again, crews were tested with tough weather and sea conditions.

Denis Brophy, Walmer RNLI's operations manager, said: "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."

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

Crew members were also on call over the New Year, sacrificing their time to save those in trouble.