RTE’s Nationwide captures the volunteer ethos at Lough Swilly RNLI

Lough Swilly RNLI is to feature on RTE1’s Nationwide in an upcoming programme which will focus on volunteering.

Lough Swilly RNLI is to feature on RTE1’s Nationwide in an upcoming programme which will focus on volunteering.

The charity’s lifeboat crew spent this weekend (1-2 September) filming on the Inishowen peninsula with local cameraman Brian McVeigh and presenter Mary Harte.

The programme, which is expected to be broadcast at 7pm on Monday, 17 September, will capture the time, skill and commitment that volunteers give to help the RNLI save lives at sea.

It will follow the station’s lifeboat crew as they carry out a training based exercise scenario, launching both their inshore lifeboat, Ernest and Minnie George Barry and the all-weather lifeboat, Mariners Friend, from their bases at Ned’s Point and Buncrana Pier.

Essential, often difficult and sometimes dangerous, viewers will get an insight into the lifesaving work the volunteers carry out when they are at the mercy of the sea.

John McCarter, Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said filming with Nationwide was a great opportunity to showcase the volunteer ethos that exists at Lough Swilly and indeed, the many other communities around the coast.

“Volunteers come from all walks of life within their communities. The crew here in Lough Swilly will readily exchange leisure, comfort and sleep for cold, wet and fatigue as is required. Indeed, following Saturday’s filming, both lifeboats were requested to go the assistance of a 28ft yacht which had ran aground on White Strand beach at Lisfannon. This was a successful shout for our volunteers with the yacht being safely recovered.”

Last year Lough Swilly RNLI launched 41 times, 14 from it all-weather lifeboat and 27 times from its inshore lifeboat, assisting 18 people in all.

“As well as the crew which goes to sea,” John continued, ‘Lough Swilly RNLI like the other 43 stations in Ireland has a network of support at the station. Volunteer shore crew for example form a vital part of the rescue team. They assist with the launch and recovery of the lifeboat, sometimes being appointed to specific tasks, such as that of tractor driver.’

He said there was a huge commitment involved: “The RNLI’s volunteers regularly put their lives on the line to save others. In return the organisation gives the best training and equipment possible to support our endeavours. Today, few crew members have any professional maritime experience when they join, and only some have recreational boating experience. Our crew trains twice a week. The skills they need range from navigation to search and rescue; from being able to repair a lifeboat engine at sea to resuscitating someone who has stopped breathing.

“Our volunteers - be they afloat, on the shore or fundraising, have always been, and remain, fundamental to the RNLI.”