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South-west RNLI 'busier than ever' over Christmas

South-west RNLI 'busier than ever' over Christmas

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:56am 25th December 2019.

Volunteers at RNLI stations across the south-west are busier than ever over Christmas according to new figures.

In the last 40 years, the charity has seen an increase of 50% in call-outs with more people than ever needing help. 

Since 2016 they have consistently launched over 21 times over the eight days from Christmas Eve to New Years Day, compared to an average over the 40 years of just 11.

Nationally, the causes of call outs over the festive period have changed over the years.

In the early 80s the most common reason was to commercial fishing vessels and powered craft.  

Since 2000, many of those needing help are often just visiting the coast with slips, trips and falls and tidal cut offs also a contributing factor to RNLI call-outs.

The charity has launched what it is calling a major fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm, in a bid to raise £1.8M and recruit 12,000 new supporters so it can continue its lifesaving work over Christmas and beyond.

The families celebrating Christmas thanks to the RNLI:

Some families will be cherishing Christmas together thanks to the RNLI.

Ian Leigh, from Portishead set off for a day’s sail with his father in law, a novice sailor on a bright and calm day in August from Portishead Marina.

However, when the weather conditions took a turn for the worst, Ian decided to take down the sails and head back under steam of the engine, from then things went horribly wrong.

On starting the outboard engine, it fell off and pulled Ian overboard. 

Ian attributes the fact that he was wearing a lifejacket and the quick reaction of the volunteer RNLI crew from Portishead to his survival.

"Without my lifejacket, it would have been a completely different story, the water was so cold, I wouldn’t have been able to keep afloat. My father in law, who has never set foot in a boat until this point, managed to get me back on board, but without an engine, we were now drifting onto the rocks.

I was cold and wet and although the adrenaline was pumping, I was in shock. It doesn’t bear thinking about what would have happened if it wasn’t for the volunteer crew, we can’t thank them enough."

 Ian Leigh

On receiving the tasking from the Coastguard, the Portishead lifeboat crew launched and locating Ian and the yacht, crew member Jake was transferred to the yacht.

Although initially Ian seemed to be doing well, his condition quickly deteriorated and Jack made the decision to transfer Ian to the lifeboat, which took him to shore and a waiting ambulance. 

Thanks to the RNLI, Ian will be spending Christmas with his wife and mum this year. 

"Now a bit of time has passed it’s definitely sunk in how close I was to things being very different. It's certainly put a different tilt on my life and had a big impact on how I think.

"I am so thankful for the Portishead RNLI lifeboat volunteers for turning up and saving me. I am planning to fundraise for them, anything I can do for them to buy equipment and kit for now and the future as my way of saying thank you.

‘To think they do this voluntarily is just incomprehensible.

"Please donate whatever you can to support the Perfect Storm appeal and help the RNLI crews to continue saving lives".

Ian Leigh

The RNLI’s Perfect Storm appeal has been launched in response to some major challenges the charity is facing.

In 2018, the RNLI’s financial resources dropped by £28.6M, while its crews are busier than ever.

To support the RNLI’s Perfect Storm appeal this Christmas, helping to ensure the charity’s volunteers can continue saving lives at sea, visit the RNLI website.

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