Christmas is right around the corner, and people are no doubt looking forward to some time off to spend with their families.
But not everyone will be totally relaxed this Christmas, such as the two new members of the Aran Islands RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew, who will be spending their first Christmas on call, ready for any emergency.
With over 1,500 volunteers around Ireland, each RNLI crew member signs up to save anyone and everyone from drowning – the charity’s mission since 1824.
Along with Galway and Clifden lifeboat crews, the crew on the Aran Islands are on call throughout the year, ready to drop everything and launch to help people in trouble at sea.
The Aran Islands crew also has the added duty of serving as a medical transport to the mainland, where the call for an emergency can come at any time of the day or night.
Fisherman and father of five Georgie Gillan, along with NUIG student Shane Crawford are the most recent recruits to join the lifeboat crew, and they are asking people to consider supporting the RNLI this Christmas.
Georgie Gillan is an experienced fisherman and a father of five young children. Working on a prawn trawler he has been aware of the work of the RNLI for as long as he can remember.
He decided it made sense that he would join the lifeboat crew as a member of the fishing community and for a way to give back to those to his community.
“I’ve grown up around the sea and I’ve seen its power and its potential. I’m enjoying the training, and learning a different set of skills, all based around search and rescue and saving others,” Georgie said of his decision.
“Being out on the lifeboat, you’re part of a team, the feeling of giving back is a great one. The standard of the kit and the training is so high and the support we get to do this job is amazing. I’m grateful to the people who support the work of the lifeboats and keep them at sea all year round.”
Shane Crawford, a first year Arts student, studying in NUIG Galway, knew from an early age that he would wear a lifeboat pager, as helping others is in his DNA.
His mother is the local community Nurse and his father served with the local Fire service for many years. Shane’s older brother, Colum is also a member of the Aran Islands lifeboat crew, and currently studying to become a paramedic.
Shane said that it has been a dream of his to be on a lifeboat crew since he was young, and that he feels “very at home” there, even though he’s new to the job.
“The communication between the crew when we are out at sea is incredible and you can see the training and commitment of everyone involved. Every piece of kit has a purpose, and the RNLI are always looking to evolve and improve the equipment.
“It’s maintained to the highest standard and we are aware of the responsibility that comes with that. When the pagers goes, no lifeboat volunteer hesitates to answer the call.”
He added that this would not be possible without the donations people make to support the RNLI.
For more information on the RNLI’s Christmas appeal, or to make a donation, visit RNLI.org/Xmas.