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RNLI Launches Mayday for Funds with Rescued Cork Dinghy Sailor after Figures Show Sharp Rise in Summer Rescues    

28th April 2021
The RNLI launches its annual Mayday for funds with Peter Connon from Cork who was rescued by lifeboat crew along with four young members of his family when their sailing boats capsized off Youghal on Easter Monday. Sign up to do the Mayday Mile at Mayday Pictured with Peter Connon are volunteer lifeboat crew from Youghal Erik Brooks and Liam Keogh who were involved in the rescue Credit: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

The RNLI is launching its Mayday Mile fundraiser today (Tuesday 27 April) as the charity’s rescue figures for 2020 show that over half (53%) of its 945 lifeboat launches took place in the months of June, July and August. Volunteer lifeboat crews are getting ready for what they expect will be a busy summer with people continuing to holiday at home.

Cork man Peter Connon, who last Easter Monday was rescued by the RNLI, along with four young members of his family, when their two sailing craft capsized in a squall off the coast, is urging people to sign up online to do the Mayday Mile which will raise funds for the lifeboat charity.

Last year, with the country dealing with restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic, lifeboat crews were still busy, bringing 1,145 people to safety. Thirteen of those people were classified as lives saved by the RNLI, meaning that without the actions of the lifeboat crew, they would not have survived. Most of those lives saved, 10 in total, happened over the summer period and lifeboat crews are expecting an even busier summer this year with people staying home and holidaying in Ireland. Last summer 747 people were aided by volunteer lifeboat crews during the summer months, an increase of 13% on the previous year’s callouts.

The RNLI’s Mayday campaign begins on Saturday 1 May and runs throughout the month. Lifesavers are calling on supporters to join the Mayday Mile and cover the distance for the charity in any way they chose to raise vital funds to help lifeboat crews continue their work. Sign up at

The RNLI’s Mayday campaign begins on Saturday 1 May and runs throughout the month

Peter Connon, a keen sailor, was out with four young members of his family when they encountered a squall that resulted in one of their craft capsizing. In trying to aid the group the second craft also capsized and with the weather worsening they were unable to right the vessels. Their mobile phones were rendered useless, but they managed to set off a personal locator beacon and kept calm until help arrived. Members of the group had attended sailing courses in the past and thankfully knew what to do in an emergency. Their equipment and quick thinking kept them safe until the RNLI lifeboat crew were able to rescue them.

Commenting on why he is supporting Mayday and doing his own Mayday Mile walk on the Youghal boardwalk when it opens, Peter spoke about the day he was rescued, ‘That day we took every precaution, but the weather turned, and we quickly found ourselves in serious trouble. We didn’t hesitate to raise the alarm and our equipment and knowledge kept us safe until help arrived. I can’t describe the feeling of joy when you see those big orange lifeboats come into view. I’m a big man but we were scooped into that lifeboat like we weighed nothing. They were so professional and reassured us that we had done everything right. My family are so grateful to Youghal and Ballycotton RNLI and to the paramedics and Coast Guard crews who attended to us that day. What might have happened only hit me much later. I’m doing the Mayday Mile fundraiser to thank the RNLI and hopefully by sharing my story other people will know that anyone can get into difficulty and it’s important to have a means of calling for help.’

Figures released by the RNLI for Ireland last year (which includes all 46 lifeboat stations on the island) show that lifeboats are launching to a range of activities. Twenty-two lifeboat callouts were to swimmers in difficulty, another 22 were to kayakers and canoeists, while 20 launches were for anglers, 15 were to jet-ski related incidents and there were 26 launches to people who were walking or running near the coast.

Owen Medland, RNLI Lifesaving Lead said: ‘As another summer approaches, we know that our lifesavers face challenges in keeping everyone safe, which is why we’re now the ones sending out our own Mayday call and asking for help. Our lifeboat crews have been operational throughout the pandemic and have had to operate in a different way and wearing PPE. Our annual Mayday fundraising campaign, which looks a little different this year, is launching on Saturday 1 May and running for the month. This year, the charity will be calling on supporters to join the Mayday Mile and undertake to cover a distance in any way they like in order to raise vital funds. It can be a mile, a 5km or a few laps of your estate. You can do it in runners or wearing lifeboat wellies. It can be serious or a fun activity for the family.’

To sign up for the Mayday Mile, or to make a donation in support of the RNLI’s lifesavers, visit here

Mayday 2021

Mayday is the RNLI’s national annual fundraising event and gives the RNLI the chance to engage with supporters and give a coordinated period to focus and maximise fundraising efforts.

The Mayday Mile is our main fundraising event this year. It is a simple ask throughout the UK and Ireland for people to get active and cover at least a mile in aid of Mayday. Participants are free to choose how they do their mile, whether it is walking, running or another activity. 

Take on The Mayday Mile

Walk it. Run it. Skate it. Cover a one-mile distance (or multiple miles!) in a way that’s challenging or fun and help raise funds for RNLI lifesavers.

Try it on a treadmill, or pace around the park. Go it alone or join an organised event. Put your best boot forward and do it in wellies. However you do your Mayday Mile, you’ll be joining a vibrant community of fundraisers around the UK and Ireland, all stepping in to help keep summer safe and fun for families, holidaymakers, and the brave volunteers who answer their calls for help.


  • Sign up for The Mayday Mile here
  • Create a team in our virtual event. Simply choose a name for your team, register the first participant and your team will be created as part of the registration process. Share your team name with others and encourage them to sign up.
Published in RNLI Lifeboats Team

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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.


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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