13 December 2022
By Mary Bermingham
New crew on call this Christmas makes lifeboating a family affair as RNLI appeals for support
A father and daughter and a husband and wife are among the RNLI families in Cork who will be on call together for the first time this Christmas.
As the charity launches its Christmas appeal asking for help to continue its lifesaving work at sea, Crosshaven RNLI’s Holly Fegan and Ballycotton RNLI’s Adam Hussey, Kate Fleming, Johannes Reiher and husband and wife Brian and Ann Daly, will be among the new lifeboat crew preparing to drop their festive plans this year and go to the aid of someone in need over the Christmas period.
Like hundreds of volunteers around Ireland, they have signed up to save every one from drowning – it has been the charity’s mission since 1824. Indeed, this Christmas many will leave their loved ones behind to answer the call, each time hoping to reunite another family, and see those in trouble at sea safely returned.
During the festive period from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day over the last five years from 2017-2021, RNLI lifeboats in the Irish region launched 55 times and brought 43 people to safety.
Last year, across the RNLI, lifeboats launched 1,078 times, with volunteer crews bringing 1,485 people to safety, 21 of whom were lives saved. Lifeboats at Youghal, Ballycotton, Crosshaven and Kinsale launched 97 times bringing 137 people to safety.
But these rescues would not be possible without donations from the RNLI’s generous supporters, helping to fund the essential kit, training and equipment needed by lifeboat crews all year round.
Nineteen-year-old Holly Fegan joined the crew at Crosshaven RNLI three months ago. Her father James has been on the crew for 18 years while her cousin Molly is also a crew member, and her uncle and godfather Patsy Fegan is the Lifeboat Operations Manager. The family ties don’t end there as her aunt Tina Bushe was the first female helm at Crosshaven while supporting the work of the station’s fundraising branch are her aunt Annamarie Fegan and before her, Holly’s late grandmother Marie Fegan.
‘Since I was a child, I have been going to the lifeboat station with my dad or helping out at open days with my grandmother,’ Holly explains. ‘I have always loved the atmosphere and the way everybody helps each other, and it is a small community in Crosshaven and I like giving back. As well as my own family connections, it is really an extended family at Crosshaven RNLI.’
Meanwhile, at Ballycotton RNLI, the station has a new station mechanic in Adam Hussey who swapped cars for lifeboats earlier this year: ‘Prior to this, I didn’t have a lifeboat background at all. I was working as a mechanic for the NCT when I saw the opportunity for a lifeboat mechanic come up at Ballycotton. I joined in July and became a fully-fledged crew member and mechanic in September. It followed months of intensive training and courses, and I had a lot of learning to do but I have loved it and have had great support.’
Married with two children, Adam has been on five call outs since becoming a mechanic and says the adrenalin and sense of pride involved is unrivalled with anything he has ever experienced before.
‘The change for me has been exciting and the RNLI is incredible, there is a sense of pride in the lifeboat and my wife and kids are so excited, we have become immersed as the RNLI is one family.’
While being on call this Christmas is a new experience for Adam, it is one he will relish:
‘Even at Christmas, our lifesavers are ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice and rush to the aid of someone in trouble on the water. At this time of year, the weather is at its worst and lives are on the line. We know that every time our crews go out they hope for a good outcome, but sadly this sometimes isn’t the case.
‘There’s no feeling quite like bringing someone home safe to their families – especially at Christmas. As lifeboat crew we couldn’t rescue people without kind donations from the public which fund the kit, training and equipment we need to save others and get home safely to our families.’
To make a donation to the RNLI’s Christmas Appeal visit: RNLI.org/Xmas