All I Want for Christmas is…an RNLI Pager!
Four new teen recruits, from across Scotland, will be spending their first Christmas on call with the RNLI after signing up as soon as they possibly could to join the lifesaving charity.
Four teens from Dunbar, Girvan, Portree and Longhope will be ready to drop everything, including their forks during Christmas lunch, as they spend their first Christmas with an RNLI pager. The teens joined the RNLI as soon as they hit their 17th birthdays and have been warmly welcomed into their respective lifeboat stations.
As most of Scotland turns up the thermostat and plans to stay firmly inside, bar the odd stroll to walk off a Christmas meal, the RNLI’s volunteer crews will be ready to put to sea, even in a winter storm, to rescue those in need of help. This year those crews will be joined by four of their youngest recruits at stations across Scotland.
In Portree Chloe Urquhart, will have her pager by her side even as she tucks into Christmas lunch. Chloe joined the RNLI as soon as she reached her seventeenth birthday. Chloe’s dad also volunteers for the RNLI as a Launching Authority, making the decision to launch the station’s Trent class lifeboat. Chloe is very at home on the ocean being a local sailing champion and closely involved with her local sailing club. Speaking about her first Christmas with a pager Chloe said: “The idea that at any moment I could be called away from my Christmas celebrations to help someone in an emergency is a pretty daunting thought.
“The cold climate and dark skies that usually turn people away can’t stop the lifeboat crew from getting the job done.
“It’s truly inspiring to see the amazing work that the crew do all over the country and it is a privilege to be able to be involved myself; even if it means my Christmas dinner goes cold!”
On the opposite side of the country and in one of the RNLI’s most remote stations, Stella Kirkpatrick will also be spending her first Christmas on call with the RNLI. Stella who volunteers with Longhope Lifeboat on Hoy, Orkney comes from a very long line of RNLI volunteers and crew. Stella’s father, Kevin, is Longhope’s coxswain. Stella lost both her great grandfathers (paternal and maternal), both her grandfathers (paternal and maternal) and grand uncles during Longhope’s disaster, the 50thanniversary of which will be marked in March 2019.
In Dunbar, Kieran Fairbairn will be joining his father Coxswain Gary Fairbairn as crew of both the station’s lifeboats. Kieran also joined the RNLI on his seventeenth birthday and proudly takes his pager to school. Speaking about spending his first Christmas on call with his pager, Kieran said: “During the Christmas holidays, while all my friends are out having fun, I’ll be keeping an eye out for the pager going off”.
Over on the West Coast it will also be a family affair when the pagers go off. At Girvan’s lifeboat station, latest recruit Luciana McGarvie has been a regular at the lifeboat station since she was a child. Luciana’s father, Gary, is the station’s second coxswain and has volunteered for the RNLI for 23 years. Speaking about welcoming Luciana to the station, Callum Govus (the RNLI’s youngest Shannon class Coxswain Mechanic) said: “Luciana has been around the station since she was little so we were all excited to welcome her onto the crew, it was a really special day, especially as she’s following in her Dad’s footsteps by signing up. We’ve recently been out training with her and she’s already really confident on the boat”. Luciana fully understands the responsibility that comes with carrying a pager and is looking forward to her first call out. Luciana has even joked with her dad that if he wants some time off during the Christmas period, “don’t worry dad, I’ll cover you”.
During the festive period (24 December – 1 January) over the last 10 years RNLI volunteers have launched 1078 times aiding 488 people and saving 35 lives. Of those launches 96 took place on Christmas Day taking our crews away from family celebrations to help save others.
Michael Avril, Community Safety Partner for Scotland says “The festive period is no different to any other time of year and we have dedicated volunteers ready to react if a call comes in.
“With people heading to the coast for a stroll we ask you to take care. Around 79 people lose their lives in water related incidents around Scotland each year and over half never even planned to enter the water. The RNLI works with all the emergency services as well as other drowning prevention charities to keep people safe throughout the year and would like to remind people to stay safe near water this Christmas. Please take a look at the tide times and always have a means of calling for help. Remember, if you need help or someone else is in difficulty dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
This Christmas the (RNLI) will once again be providing a 24/7 rescue service throughout the festive period at the charity’s 238 stations covering the UK and Republic of Ireland, with 46 of those stations being in Scotland.
RNLI media contacts
Gemma McDonald, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 01738 642956, 07826 900639,firstname.lastname@example.org
Henry Weaver, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 01738 642986, 07771 943026,email@example.com
RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789
Article Author - Gemma McDonald
Regional Media Officer, Scotland
Pictured - Luciana McGarvie Girvan RNLI
Photo Credit Gary McGarvie