Generations of RNLI lifesavers on call this Christmas

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is launching its annual Christmas fundraising appeal, with a focus on the generations of families who have volunteered their time and commitment 24/7, 365 days a year, to ensure the charity’s lifesaving service has continued for nearly 200 years.

On average, RNLI lifeboats launch over 100 times during the Christmas period* every year. Whatever weather winter throws at them, RNLI crews are ready to battle the elements to save lives at sea. These rescues, and others all year round, are only made possible by the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews.

Christmas is a time for family and, for many, a time for sharing stories of times and generations past. For the Leigh family from Littlestone-on-Sea in Kent, these stories often involve saving lives at sea – a family tradition that has seen them serve as volunteers for the RNLI for over 50 years.

And it’s a tradition that is set to continue, as 18-year-old Samuel Leigh follows in the footsteps of his father Peter and grandfather Pat to become part of the crew at Littlestone-on-Sea RNLI. A-level student Samuel recently became part of the volunteer shore crew at the station and is now looking forward to his first Christmas on call.

Samuel said: ‘It’s become a real family tradition to volunteer for the RNLI, and I am so pleased to be continuing it – it’s very rewarding to know that I am helping to save lives at sea. We all hope that our pagers won’t sound over Christmas, but at least if they do I know my family will understand if I have to cut the celebrations short – and that my dad will be coming with me!’

Samuel’s father, Peter Leigh, began volunteering with the Littlestone-on-Sea crew over thirty years ago, and is now Helm of the station’s B-class inshore lifeboat, the Jean McIvor. Peter volunteered alongside his own father Pat, who had himself joined the crew in the 1960s.

Peter said: ‘I am so proud of Samuel – it’s amazing to know he’ll be carrying on our family tradition and will be there to help to launch the lifeboat when the call for help comes. I have such strong memories of volunteering with my own father so it’s wonderful to now be welcoming my son onto the crew.’

Pat added: ‘I’m so proud of my son and grandson following on in my footsteps as RNLI volunteer crew members. There’s no feeling quite like bringing someone home safe to their families – especially at Christmas. But as volunteer lifeboat crew we couldn’t launch without kind donations from the public which fund the kit, training and equipment we need to save others and get home safely to our own families.’

To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal, and enable the charity to continue its lifesaving work, visit:

*’Christmas period’ refers to 24 – 31 December inclusive

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