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RNLI volunteers get ready for a Perfect Storm this Christmas

As Christmas approaches, RNLI lifeboat crews based in Galway city, Clifden and the Aran Islands are issuing their own call for help as they prepare for a Perfect Storm.

The lifeboat crews safeguarding the waters around Galway are facing a perfect storm this season, with more people than ever seeking the help of the RNLI.

All three stations will have volunteers on call throughout Christmas and the New Year, ready to step and save lives while many other people will be snug at home.

They have all experienced Christmas Day launches in the past, with ten in total since 2015.

One family that are very grateful to have the RNLI on call is the O’Connell’s from Inis Mór on the Aran Islands. Their son Jack was born in 2009 and from about nine months old, he suffered with tonsillitis every few months. 

On Christmas Day in 2012, things took a turn for the worse and Jack’s tonsils swelled up so severely that he had difficulty breathing. 

He was rushed to Rossaveal harbour by lifeboat and transferred to hospital by ambulance for urgent treatment. 

Thankfully Jack recovered and his father, Daniel, was so grateful for the help of the local lifeboat crew that he joined up as a volunteer.

Daniel with his son Jack today

“‘We were very grateful that night for our wonderful volunteer crew, who without hesitation, stepped away from their families on Christmas Day to bring our little man to Hospital,” Jack’s mum Lena O’Connell said.

“The RNLI is a huge party of our family, my father was a crew member and my mom is the treasurer and a fundraiser for the Aran Islands RNLI.” 

“Having spent years helping mom with fundraising events, this past March, I took over as Volunteer Press officer for our Station. You can say the lifeboat is in our blood.”

Daniel O’Connell, with Jack’s grandmother Margaret Jackie Gill along with Jack, Olive and Eoghan at the Aran Islands Lifeboat station in 2016

To ensure the RNLI can continue its lifesaving work this Christmas and into the future, the charity is running a major fundraising appeal, The Perfect Storm.

Galway RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Swan added, “We don’t think anything of being on call at Christmas – it’s what we do and what we’re trained for.” 

“Christmas is just like any other day for our volunteer crew, if someone needs our help, it really doesn’t matter what day of the year it is. But we couldn’t do what we do without the support of the public.”

This year was a memorable one for the volunteers with Clifden RNLI, as they received the first Shannon class lifeboat to be put on service on the west coast of Ireland.

Alongside their inshore lifeboat the crew are ready to leave their Christmas dinner if they get the call for help.

Clifden lifeboat crew with Shannon class lifeboat. credit: Michael Mc Laughlin

Clifden RNLI Coxswain James Mullen said, “It was an honour to be the first lifeboat station on the west coast to receive the latest in lifeboat technology.”

“With both lifeboats we can work close to shore and out to a hundred miles in all weathers.  We don’t know what we will face but we train to be ready for every situation.”

To support the RNLI’s Perfect Storm appeal this Christmas, please visit RNLI.org/ThePerfectStorm.

Briain Kelly
Email: news@galwaydaily.com
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