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Walmer RNLI Lifeboat named as East Kent Mercury's Charity of the year 2019

By Beth Robson

A busy and eventful 12 months saving lives at sea has earned Walmer RNLI Lifeboat the title of Mercury Charity of the Year 2019.

With forty-two recorded service launches, crews on the Atlantic 85 Donald McLauchlan and D Class Duggie Rodbard were credited with assisting thirty-five people.

From the first call on January 21, to the final shout on December 28, volunteers have carried out a range of operations, sometimes in conjunction with Dover lifeboat and the Coastguard helicopter, including responding to distress calls, carrying out sometimes long and tiring searches and assisting broken down vessels, often in difficult weather conditions.

Volunteers from the RNLI Walmer lifeboat had a record year (6362691)
Volunteers from the RNLI Walmer lifeboat had a record year (6362691)

As well as responding to service calls the crew have also regularly attended twice weekly training exercises which included one hundred and sixteen exercises afloat where training assessments and crew ‘pass outs’ were undertaken. ‘Dry side’ exercises have included casualty care, chart and navigation work and a major incident simulation.

This is why they have been chosen as this newspaper's chosen charity and news editor Beth Robson is asking readers to bear the RNLI in mind when planning their fundraising activities this year.

"There is never a month that goes by without us featuring a story about our brave volunteers stepping in to help people in distress at sea or along the coast.

"This year we'd like to see that dedication rewarded and that's why we ask our readers to get behind the team at Walmer Lifeboat Station," she said, adding: "Whether it's a cake sale or a marathon run, any cash donation will be appreciated by them, and there are also opportunities to volunteer."

The two Walmer lifeboats and volunteers at sea (6392817)
The two Walmer lifeboats and volunteers at sea (6392817)

The station's spokesman Chris Winslade said: "Walmer lifeboat volunteers wish to thank the East Kent Mercury for choosing them as their Charity of the Year for 2019.

"We are grateful for their continued support in publishing a range of news articles about our activities and look forward to welcoming them at the lifeboat station over the coming year."

Vic Reeves and wife Nancy Sorrell, together with twin daughters Elizabeth and Nell met Walmer lifeboat volunteers in May
Vic Reeves and wife Nancy Sorrell, together with twin daughters Elizabeth and Nell met Walmer lifeboat volunteers in May

Last year also saw visits from the RNLI Chief Executive Paul Boissier, comedian and actor Vic Reeves and Jack Lowe as part of his Lifeboat Project, as well as a highly successful Classic Car Show and Charity Car Wash.

Lifeboat Operations Manager Denis Brophy said: "I have been involved here now for more than fifty years and this is the largest number of operations I can ever remember.

"It’s testament to the dedication of all our volunteers, and those of other stations around the country, to the numbers who willingly respond to their pagers whenever they go off."

Walmer lifeboat is looking for enthusiastic volunteers who would like to join their shore crew.

If you are interested, please phone the lifeboat station on 01304 374475 and ask to speak to the Lifeboat Operations Manager or email to walmer@rnli.org.uk

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