Helmets and lifejackets drying. Photo: Christopher Winslade Lifeboat Press Officer, Walmer Lifeboat Station

Despite the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions 2020 proved to be a record-breaking year for volunteers at Walmer RNLI.

Walmer, along with all other RNLI stations around the UK and Ireland and despite the challenges of Covid-19 remained on-call 24/7 and responded to pagers on a record 53 occasions, rescuing fourteen people and assisting over seventy others. Four further calls were stood down before launch.

The easing of restrictions and good weather over the stay-at-home summer resulted in a variety of situations for the station’s Atlantic 85 Donald McLauchlan and D Class Duggie Rodbard II. These ranged from numerous people being cut off by rising tides, vessels taking on water, others with engine difficulties taken under tow and assisting kayakers, fishermen and inflatables drifting with tides being unable to return to shore unaided.

Safety advice about the dangers of tides, currents, carrying a means of communicating with the shore and the wearing of appropriate lifejackets was given on many occasions.

The year wasn’t, however, all about rescues. The station also celebrated a twenty-year service award made to one of our helms, two crew members being passed out as helms and a further two completing assessments and being passed out as competent crew.

Within the RNLI’s guidelines some exercises were still able to continue but when further restrictions were imposed training was arranged via Zoom.

As with many other stations the year also saw the closure of the station shop with the consequent loss of revenue. Most of the usual fundraising events such as the annual Car Wash, Car Show and Open Day had to be cancelled.

However, with the support of the local community a lot of money has been raised, notably through the continued success of the Betty’s 5p Pots scheme which has been maintained with businesses in town and even during lockdown raised £2200, and most recently a Christmas Tree chipping which raised nearly £1300. Added to this are a number of cheques from generous donors. Lifesaving work could not continue without this support.

Walmer lifeboat station was established in 1856.

It currently operates two inshore lifeboats – a B Class Atlantic 85 Donald McLauchlan and a smaller D Class Duggie Rodbard II.

Crews have received 28 Awards for Gallantry

By Ed