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Ballygally Open Water Swimmers Caught in Rip Current Raise £1,000 for Larne RNLI

26th May 2021
The Chilli Dippers present Larne RNLI with a cheque for over £1,000
The Chilli Dippers present Larne RNLI with a cheque for over £1,000 Credit: RNLI/Nuala McAloon

A group of open water swimmers who were rescued after getting caught in a rip current have raised over £1,000 for Larne RNLI.

The swimmers were safely recovered to the shore before action was required by the station’s lifeboats in the incident in late March at Ballygally Beach, on the East Antrim coast in Northern Ireland.

But following the incident, the swimmers at Ballygally Chilli Dippers Open Water Swimming Group felt they would like to do their bit to help the charity.

On Sunday last (23 May), some of Larne RNLI’s volunteer crew along with lifeboat operations manager Allan Dorman and members of the fundraising team, went to Ballygally Beach where a cheque for £1,016 was presented by the Chilli Dippers.

Recalling the events from March, Sharon Hamilton of the swimming group said: “The sea conditions changed very quickly that evening and within seconds of going in, a few of us were taken out to sea and out of our depth by a rip current.

“We all had our floats and to begin with we were within our depths. Our intention that evening was to have a quick swim, however once we were caught in the current the fight was too much for us to get back to shore. Luckily help came just in time.”

Speaking about the increase in open water swimming, Sharon said: “The pandemic and lockdown has sent lots of us running to the sea for therapy and exercise, but safety needs to be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

“Never swim alone, use a float, carry a whistle and check tide times and learn how to spot a rip current. Thankfully the fast-acting members of the Chilli Dippers, pulled together and got everyone safely back to the shore just as the RNLI were launching.

“The response I got from my Facebook post highlighting the need for sea safety was overwhelming, so I decided to turn it around and ask for a small donation from anyone who had liked or shared the post. The response was amazing and a grand total of £1,016 was raised within a week.”

The fundraising efforts of the Chilli Dippers come at a time when the RNLI is asking for donations as part of its annual Mayday fundraising campaign.

Larne RNLI’s Dorman said: “We are so grateful to Sharon and all the Chilli Dippers for thinking of us, raising much needed funds to help us to continue to save lives at sea, all while spreading the importance of water safety as well.”

There is still time to take part in with the Mayday Mile. Walk, run, cycle, or cover one mile however you would like and then donate online to the RNLI at RNLI.org/supportMayday

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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.

FAQs

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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