LIFEBOAT crews on Wearside have had their festivities on hold in the line of duty.
Last Christmas and New Year, despite freezing conditions and thick snow in many areas, the RNLI in the North was called out nine times, often in the hours of darkness.
Crews from Sunderland, along with Cullercoats, Redcar, Filey, Bridlington, Cleethorpes and New Brighton, were in action over the festive period, while lifeguards on Crosby beach were on duty every single day – and have been again this year.
RNLI operations director Michael Vlasto said: “The Christmas holidays are typically a time of fun, rest and relaxation with family and friends, so the fact that our volunteer lifeboat crew members are willing to carry a pager all over the festive season and launch the lifeboats to rescue those in danger at sea – in all conditions and at any time of day or night – is testament to their absolute commitment.
“In addition, there are a number of RNLI lifeguards who have been on duty, maintaining their watch on the beaches. We are extremely grateful to them all.
“Of course, it is not just the lifeboat crews we should remember, but also their families and friends, who too are prepared for Christmas to be disturbed by the call of the pager, and our dedicated fundraisers and supporters, whose work is vital in ensuring we, as a charity, have the funds we need to keep saving lives at sea.”
Most RNLI crews have a full-time occupation but volunteer to go through rigorous RNLI training and carry a pager, which alerts them when they are needed to rescue someone at sea.
They are on-call 24/7, 365 days a year, with the break between Christmas and New Year being no exception.
Meanwhile, the charity is sending out an ‘SOS’ call this Christmas, encouraging members of the public to support its biggest day of fundraising.
RNLI SOS Day will take place on Friday, January 27.
For more information, visit www.rnli.org.uk/sos.