WITH the weather improving and lockdown easing, Fermanagh’s life-saving RNLI volunteers are preparing for a busy season ahead as people get back out on the water.
The two local crews have already assisted several boaters in recent times, and over the past weekend alone the volunteers helped bring seven people to safety. Meanwhile, new figures have shown there was no rest for the local volunteers over the lockdowns, with local crews launching scores of times last year.
On Sunday evening both the lifeboat and the Douglas Euan and Kay Richards rescue boat from Carrybridge station was tasked by the Belfast Coastguard to help a vessel with a crew of five which had run aground around one mile north east of Naan Island.
All five on board were found to be safe and well, and were transferred to the lifeboat and the boat was towed back to Carrybridge slipway.
The call out came as the Douglas Euan and Kay Richards was returning from an earlier afternoon callout, where it had come to the aid two people on board a vessel around two miles north of Knockninny, which had encountered engine difficulty and was drifting.
Speaking afterwards, lifeboat operations manager at Carrybridge RNLI, Stephen Scott, urged people to take care and respect the water.
“As the bank holiday approaches please take time to plan your journey with the relevant charts, lifejackets for all on board and a means of calling for assistance if you find yourself in trouble,” he said.
The launches came as new figures revealed exactly 100 people needed assistance from local volunteers on Lough Erne last year. Carrybridge RNLI, on the upper lough, was launched 29 times assisting 52 people in 2020, while Enniskillen RNLI on the lower lough launched 25 times and brought 48 people to safety. Across the border, the Bundoran crew was launched 18 times.
The figures were released as the RNLI, which relies almost entirely on public donations, launched its annual Mayday fundraising drive, ahead of an expected busy summer. Launching this Saturday, May 1, and running all month, the campaign asks people to do a ‘Mayday Mile’ in anyway they wish to raise the vital funds.
“Our lifeboat crews have remained operational throughout the pandemic and have had to operate in a different way while wearing additional PPE including surgical masks,” said Mr Scott. “They have done this while launching their lifeboats to help those in trouble at sea.
“As another summer approaches, we know that our lifesavers face more challenges in keeping everyone safe, which is why we are now the ones sending out our own Mayday call and asking for help. Our annual Mayday fundraising campaign is our call for your support to help keep you and your family safe this summer.”
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