The RNLI is looking for new fundraising volunteers to join its lifesaving crew in County Antrim.
Just like the charity’s lifeboats, the RNLI’s fundraising team need a dedicated volunteer crew. Volunteers are at the heart of the RNLI and make up 95% of its people. They are ordinary people who do extraordinary things and without them, the organisation couldn’t continue to save lives at sea.
But it’s not all about volunteering on lifeboats or at a station, there are many other ways people can give a little or a lot of their time to support the RNLI and make their own lifesaving difference.
Trevor Abernethy is the vice-chair of the Portrush and Portstewart Fundraising Branch and the chair of the North Coast Events Group.
He first got involved five years ago when he returned home from England:
"My initial involvement was when I did my own fundraiser for the RNLI cycling from John o’Groats to Land’s End and raising a couple of thousand pounds. I was then approached and asked if I would like to get involved with the fundraising branch.
"I enjoy coming up with ideas and doing crazy things, so I thought, why not. It was a good opportunity for me returning from England to get to know people and be a part of something that is so integral to the community."
Trevor is married to Lisa who is a volunteer crew member at Portrush RNLI. When he can he relishes the opportunity to bring the lifeboat and fundraising crewstogether.
"Last year we got the lifeboat crew involved in our Mayday mile fundraiser by introducing a farmers walk putting the crew up against a gym crew and challenging them to carry 60kg. It turned out to be quite competitiveand a great way to involve everyone in an enjoyable way. While raising funds is important, being involved isalso about integrating with the community."
In terms of success, Trevor says it is the variety of people and skillsets that make things work and he would love to see new faces come onboard.
"We are constantly looking for people to share new ideas, we are very open with that as it brings different voices to the team. We are also looking for different skillsets. Some people are good at taking notes, others are good with money and others have different mindsets and it is this combination that makes for a great team."
The RNLI is looking for new volunteers at its Portrush and Portstewart Branch, the North Coast Events Group, the Ballymoney Branch, Ballymena Branch and the Glens Lifeboat Guild in Cushendall.
Patricia Crossley is the chair of the Ballymoney Fundraising Branch and has been volunteering for the RNLI for 58 years, first as a flag day collector, then as flag day secretary and now as branch chair.
"I was inspired to get involved by the sinking of the Princess Victoria 70 years ago,’ she explains. ‘We used to go to Donaghadee on our holidays and I remember my father took us down to Donaghadee on the Sunday following the tragedy. The seriousness of this disaster had such an impact on my life as a young child. I said at that time that when I was older, I was going to help the lifeboat."
Almost 60 years on, Patricia is as enthusiastic as ever about the work she does and is keen to build the branch:
"I play a small part but it is a part that ensures the RNLI can make new lifeboats, keep crews safe and ensure volunteers have the right equipment to do their lifesaving work at sea. I would love to see others come along and get caught up in it, find out about the lifeboat story and see what they can do to help as I did all those years ago when I made a promise to help the RNLI.’
Mary Creedon, RNLI Fundraising Partnership Lead hailed the work of people like Trevor and Patricia:
"Without our volunteers, the RNLI simply would not be able to operate the way it does today. With 92% of the RNLI’s income coming from donations, the charity relieson the generosity of supporters and on the dedication of our fundraising volunteers to help raise essential funds. Thousands of community fundraising volunteers organise a wide range of activities and events each year, contributing their time, energy and skills to raise money to save lives at sea. Some of our fundraisers have been volunteering for many years while some just join us for a few months in the year depending on what their commitments allow.
"We now really need to bolster that support and grow our volunteer fundraising crew. If you like to have fun, enjoy meeting new people and want to join a motivated and enthusiastic team, we encourage you to find out more and apply. You will learn new skills, gain experience and have the rewarding satisfaction of giving back. The RNLI will also provide all the necessary training and support so you can carry out your chosen role effectively."
To find out more about how you can sign up to be a fundraising volunteer at the RNLI, or to apply, click on this link: