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RNLI Lifesavers Reunite with Kayaker They Rescued as Charity issues Mayday Call for Fundraising Appeal

25th April 2022
Polish Kayaker Andrzej Kolobi and his family with the Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat, the
Polish Kayaker Andrzej Kolobi and his family with the Clogherhead RNLI Lifeboat, the "Michael O'Brien" and crew on Clogherhead beach, Co. Louth, on Sunday 24th April 2022. Credit: Thos Caffrey / Newsfile

To help launch this year’s Mayday Mile fundraiser for the RNLI, a lone kayaker who got into difficulty off Clogherhead in County Louth last month, returned to visit the lifeboat crew who saved his life when he capsized in a strong current and could not get to safety. Kayaker Andrzej Kolobius met with his rescuers at Clogherhead RNLI lifeboat station to say thank you in person and introduce the volunteer crew to his wife Aneta and daughter Nicola.

Last year, lifeboat crews in Ireland launched 1,078 times, bringing 1,485 people to safety, an increase of 30% on the previous year’s lifeboat callouts. With demand for its lifesaving services at a high, the charity is putting out its own ‘Mayday’ call, urging the public to take part in the RNLI’s Mayday Mile, to raise essential funds to provide vital training and equipment to keep their lifesavers safe, while they save others.

Whether you choose to walk, jog, hop or skip, the Mayday Mile challenges people to cover a distance in any way they like between Saturday 1st and Monday 31st May, whilst raising vital funds for RNLI lifesavers so that they can continue to keep people safe at sea.

Experienced kayaker Andrzej Kolobius, a Polish national living in County Monaghan for many years, wanted to come and visit his rescuers with his family, wife Aneta and daughter Nicola (8), to thank them in person after they saved his life last month. An experienced kayaker, Andrzej had no idea when he took to the water that morning that he would need to be rescued. He still has no idea who raised the alarm but is grateful they did and that he was able to be reunited with his family.

Commenting after meeting his rescuers Andrzej said, ‘I can never express how thankful I am to the lifeboat crew that rescued me. Not just for me but for my wife and daughter too. I am that person who never thought they would need to be rescued. I am an experienced kayaker and had my drysuit and lifejacket on, but I had no idea that I would not be able to get back on my kayak. I was close to the headland, but I was getting battered and was exhausted and could only manage to hang on to the kayak and hope help would come. I can never thank my rescuers enough and I’m delighted to be able to help the RNLI launch their Mayday Mile appeal.’

Clogherhead RNLI mechanic and crewmember Barry Sharkey added, ‘This summer we will no doubt see people get into danger on the water while enjoying a day out with their family or friends. Despite what you may think, it’s so easy to get into trouble. It can happen to anyone, as Andrzej has shown. That’s why we’re calling on our supporters to sign up for their own Mayday Mile, to help give us and our fellow lifesavers everything we need to continue to keep people safe this summer and beyond.’

‘Andrzej had all the correct equipment which helped keep him afloat and warm until we arrived. The fast response from the time the Coast Guard raised the alarm to us rescuing him, made the difference. Seeing him with Aneta and Nicola at the station, brings it home to us that behind every rescue is a family. We are so grateful for the support we receive.’

All funds raised through the Mayday Mile will give RNLI lifesavers the training, equipment, and kit that they need to rescue others and come home safe themselves.

The Mayday Mile will be running from Saturday 1 May to Monday 31 May. Sign up and find out more at RNLI.org/SupportMayday

Published in RNLI Lifeboats, Kayaking
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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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