No break for lifeboat crews over Christmas

Spare a thought this Christmas for the RNLI volunteers who could have to leave their families – and roast dinner – at home to help those in trouble at sea.

Putting yourself on the front line for the charity means you are willing to help every day of the year, and Christmas Day is no exception. A new survey commissioned by the RNLI shows that just over eight per cent of the country will be doing any charitable work over Christmas – 70 per cent of us will be relaxing with friends and family.

Shopping and partying take up the majority of the country’s time in the run up to the festivities, and the RNLI’s 4,500 lifeboat volunteers must be prepared to drop whatever they’re doing to answer a call.

RNLI operations director Michael Vlasto explains: “Our lifeboat volunteers are on call every day of the year. They don’t train as lifeboat crew members all year and then say ‘I want Christmas off’, that’s not the deal. They make a serious commitment to train as lifeboat men and women and to be available at a moment’s notice to help those in trouble at sea.”

The survey, carried out by, suggests that most people are not so charitable. Half of UK employees would refuse to work on Christmas Day if called in to an emergency, while one in ten would go as far as telling their boss to “get lost”. One in three would expect double pay – the RNLI’s volunteers don’t get any.

“RNLI volunteers are on call 24-seven, 365 days of the year,” says Vlasto, “and they do not expect to get paid, most do what they do to help others. It’s as simple as that.”

The RNLI’s funding is totally dependent on donations from the public. To learn more about the charity, get sea safety tips and see footage of the crews in action, click here