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First Christmas On Call for Five New Crew Members at Lough Derg RNLI

23rd December 2021
Ania Skrzypczynska and Richard Nolan are two of the five new crew heading into their first Christmas on call with Lough Derg RNLI
Ania Skrzypczynska and Richard Nolan are two of the five new crew heading into their first Christmas on call with Lough Derg RNLI Credit: RNLI

A busy mother of one is among five new volunteer crew members who will be on call for the first time this Christmas at Lough Derg RNLI.

Polish native Ania Skrzypczynska is preparing to swap traditional festivities for the cold waters of the December lake, should the call for help come in.

And as the RNLI continues its Christmas Appeal, Ania is urging the public to help her crew, and the thousands of other volunteer crews on call over the Christmas period, to continue their lifesaving work.

Ania says she joined the RNLI “because I wanted to become part of the community after moving to Dromineer. After the first few training sessions on the lifeboat, I had got to meet really nice, friendly people and found it to be a great experience.

“Then after passing my first assessment and being allowed to go on the lifeboat, it was like the beginning of an adventure for me.

“Being a mum of a small and very busy boy, I am restricted with the amount of time I have to spare between my full-time job and family life. However, I know that in the future I will be able to get more involved in the life of the station.

“I am looking forward to becoming a fully qualified crew member. I like new challenges and I want to channel it towards learning how to help others. And by living so close to Lough Derg, I want to learn more about the lake, its beauty and, its dangers.”

Among the other new crew members at Lough Derg RNLI are Richard Nolan, Ciara Lynch, Eimear Kelly and Ciara Moylan.

For Richard, his knowledge from youth of the work the RNLI did on the lake was a major influence in his decision to join the crew, but he also found that having lived away from home in London for almost 10 years, it was a good opportunity to reintegrate into his community.

Richard says: ‘This is my first Christmas on call, and I know even over the festive period, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water.”

From left: Paul Sillery, Graham Fitzgerald and John Stapleton have taken up new roles at Wicklow RNLIFrom left: Paul Sillery, Graham Fitzgerald and John Stapleton have taken up new roles at Wicklow RNLI

Elsewhere, Wicklow RNLI have passed out three volunteer lifeboat crew into new lifesaving roles at the station.

Graham Fitzgerald is a new station coxswain, Paul Sillery is a new helm on the station’s inshore lifeboat and John Stapleton is a new mechanic on the all-weather Shannon class lifeboat.

Graham has been a volunteer lifeboat crewmember since 2009, becoming a helm on the inshore lifeboat back in 2013. He has a strong family connection to the station, with his grandfather Billy Kilbride a former lifeboat volunteer.

From a strong seafaring background and working in Dublin Port, the sea is in his veins, and he was involved in the rescue of two children who were blown out to sea on an inflatable earlier this year.

“I like the challenge of going out on a rescue and not knowing what we may face; I’ve been on a few challenging ones and it’s so rewarding to bring people home safe, something that sadly not every family have experienced,” he says.

“As a helm and now a coxswain, I feel a huge responsibility to the crew and the station, thanks to the support of the public we have the kit and the equipment to ensure we can save lives at sea whenever and wherever we are needed.”

Paul Sillery joined the lifeboat crew back in 2009 and has recently passed out as a helm on the station’s D class lifeboat. Like Graham, Paul has a strong lifeboating tradition in his family: his great uncle Parker Keogh was coxswain and his uncle David Sillery was a crew member.

“I knew I was always going to join the lifeboat crew and the minute I turned 17 I was at the door of the station,” Paul says. “People recognise the crew in the street as they see us going out to train and see us leaving for a shout. It’s so humbling to have that kind of community support behind us.

John Stapleton has been recently passed out as a mechanic on the all-weather lifeboat. Born and raised in Dublin, John moved to Wicklow 11 years ago and joined the lifeboat crew in 2015.

“There is a role for everyone in the RNLI and if you have an interest in something you can develop it and train up,” John says. “We have navigators, launching authorities and shore crew — everyone does the role that suits them, and it all works together. The resources the RNLI puts into the training and the kit is incredible.:

John adds: “Through people supporting this year’s Christmas appeal, with their help we can get so much closer to our goal of saving every one.”

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, visit RNLI.org/Xmas

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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