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New Shop Volunteers Needed to Help at Donaghadee RNLI and Stations Across Island of Ireland

21st February 2022
Donaghadee Harbour in County Down
Donaghadee Harbour in County Down

The RNLI is looking for new shop volunteers to join its lifesaving team at Donaghadee RNLI in Co Down — and stations across the island of Ireland.

Just like the charity’s lifeboats, the RNLI’s retail team need a dedicated volunteer crew — people of all ages and abilities — who can give a little time to help save lives at sea.

Alma Mason has been the Shop Manager at Donaghadee RNLI since April last year and along with her team of volunteers, she works to ensure the shop on the seafront is open daily from 1-4pm.

"I was always aware of the importance of the RNLI’s lifesaving work as I was a Stena Line purser on the Dublin to Liverpool ferry route for 12 years," Alma explains. "Living in Donaghadee, I also knew most of the volunteer lifeboat crew. When I saw the advertisement last year for a shop manager, I knew I had some time to give and I applied for the role."

Alma Mason, Shop Manager at Donaghadee RNLIAlma Mason, Shop Manager at Donaghadee RNLI

As for what she finds most rewarding about being involved, Alma says: "What I have learned so much more about since volunteering is the difference the funds raised through the shop can make.

"It is rewarding to know that in some small way by giving your time you have helped to raise the vital funds to help save lives at sea and that when you see the lifeboat launching, you know the volunteer crew are going out with the best of training, kit and equipment to do what they need to do."

Alma is encouraging others to get involved: "You can gain some invaluable skills and training whilst volunteering at a shop and can become part of an incredible team.

"If you enjoy meeting and interacting with people, are confident in handling money, it really is a role you will love."

RNLI shops started out as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local lifeboat station.

"These stalls started selling commemorative RNLI products in around 1920 and quickly moved on to selling souvenirs and Christmas cards with all profits helping save lives at sea," Nuala Muldoon, RNLI Community Manager explained.

"Today, we have over 170 RNLI shops around the coast and inland, all of which are still run by our dedicated volunteers. They attract many visitors throughout the year and stock an excellent range of unique souvenirs and gifts.

"The pandemic, unfortunately, hit our shops hard as they closed for periods of time in line with Covid-19 restrictions. We were delighted when we could reopen them safely in accordance with government guidance and are looking forward to welcoming our visitors in 2022.

"To do this successfully, we want to grow our team of shop volunteers and are looking for people who enjoy interacting with others, can help us to provide a high level of customer service and ensure our shops continue to be friendly and welcoming places."

Currently, shop volunteers are being sought by various lifesaving teams around the island of Ireland — in Portrush; Sligo Bay; the Aran Islands; Youghal, Ballycotton and Castletownbere in Co Cork; Dunmore East in Co Waterford; Courtown, Wexford and Kilmore Quay; Dun Laoghaire in Co Dublin; and Clogherhead in Co Louth.

To find out more about how you can help generate vital funds, promote the work of the RNLI, and apply, go here

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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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