RHYL lifeboat volunteer, Mathew Baines, and his dad, Bob, are the faces of the RNLI’s Christmas appeal, hoping to raise £2M in donations after an unprecedented summer facing the challenges of saving lives during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bob and Mathew Baines
In the appeal letter, which is being delivered to thousands of households across Wales, Bob Haines talks about how proud he is of his son who went on his first ever shout at just 18 years old on a very wet and cold November night.
But he also worries for Mathew when he is called out to save others who are in trouble. In the appeal, Bob talks about how he track’s the lifeboat’s progress online and the sense of relief he feels when his son returns home safe.
Mathew rarely takes a day off from saving lives as he is also a lifeguard on the local beach when he’s not at university. But lifesaving runs in the family. Bob has been on the crew at Rhyl for over 12 years and is so proud of Mathew for following in his footsteps.
The Rhyl Lifeboat Station has always been a part of Mathew’s life. When he was younger, he would visit the station with his dad at every opportunity. At secondary school, Mathew chose to complete the volunteering section of his Duke of Edinburgh Award at the station, and he loved visiting other RNLI stations whilst on family holidays.
Bob said: ‘It can be difficult seeing Mathew leave when the pager goes. I worry about him and what he might go through when he is out on a shout. Even at Christmas, I know that Mathew might have to drop everything and run out the door to go and save someone’s life.’
Volunteer crew member Mathew commented: ‘The best Christmas gift RNLI volunteers like me can wish for is a kind donation to our Christmas appeal. Funds raised will provide the lifesaving kit I need when I’m out saving lives in all weathers.
‘We’ve had a very challenging summer, rescuing those in difficulty in the midst of a pandemic. As lockdown restrictions lifted, people flocked to the coast and lots of people needed to be rescued by lifeboat crews like ours, right across the country.’
Due to coronavirus restrictions, the popular Rhyl Lifeboat Day, Raft Race and big music festival, 53° North, had to be cancelled and the volunteer-run RNLI shop in town had to close. Similar closures and cancellations across the UK and Ireland have cost the RNLI millions of pounds in lost income.
Our RNLI lifesavers across 238 lifeboat stations, are prepared to rush out the door at the sound of their pager, even during their Christmas dinner. Across the UK and Ireland, RNLI volunteers are called out over 100 times during the Christmas period*.
The RNLI has spent £1.2M this year on PPE, including almost 700,000 face masks, 2.4 million gloves and 4,700 litres of hand sanitiser. This is money the charity hadn’t budgeted for but needed to be spent to keep its lifesavers and the public protected during the coronavirus crisis.
RNLI lifesavers continued to work tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep people safe as lockdown restrictions eased and people flocked to the coast. As a charity, the RNLI relies on the support of the public to continue saving lives – and that support is needed now more than ever. The charity has launched its Christmas Appeal. To support, visit: RNLI.org/Xmas