Oban Lifeboat counts down to Christmas

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Volunteers of Oban RNLI have been counting down to Christmas with a lifeboat-themed advent calendar.

The 24 fascinating facts about the station, lifeboat and its volunteers has helped shed new light on the service to social media followers.

Leonie Mead, the station’s volunteer press officer came up with the initial idea and  volunteers wracked their brains for corresponding facts for each date.

She said: ‘It started back in November as I was trying to think of ideas for Christmas publicity. I wanted to include some of our station history and stories of interest and it evolved from there.’

The hugely informative #LifeboatdaysofChristmas idea has generated 70 new followers to its Facebook page since December 1 and more supporters to Instagram and Twitter too.

Leonie explained: ‘That translates to another 70 people we are able to pass safety messages on to. We hope that leads to 70 more people we’re able to keep safe and we hope that they, too, become supporters of the RNLI.’

The public engagement exercise is important in 2020 because the service relies entirely on donations and has been unable to welcome visitors to its station for its annual open day or other events.

Leonie said: ‘Social media has proven invaluable for us to stay connected to our supporters. It’s through these channels that we can continue pushing our safety messages and raise awareness of both the work of our volunteers and the RNLI.

‘Not only has this been a successful publicity campaign for us but its creation has also provided enjoyment amongst our crew and station officials. It’s helped reconnect our lifeboat family socially, when we aren’t able to do so face to face. It’s also brought back lots of memories and highlighted so much that we should be proud of as a station.’

RNLI volunteers around Scotland will remain on call this Christmas and New Year – ready to drop everything and leave their families, should their pagers sound.

It is one of Scotland’s busiest single all-weather lifeboats and Oban’s volunteers have faced a busy year regardless of the coronavirus.

Ally Cerexhe, coxswain for Oban Lifeboat, said: ‘We are normally a busy station so our volunteers already dedicate a huge amount of time to call outs and training.

‘But this year we’ve faced more challenges; additional PPE has been required and extra safety measures have been put in place to ensure we can continue launching throughout this pandemic, and our volunteers continue to risk their lives to save others.

‘As always, we remind everyone to stay safe when visiting the coast. Daylight hours are short and the temperature drops quickly. If you find yourself, or spot someone else in difficulty, remember to call 999 and ask for the coastguard.’

To view the big unveiling on Christmas Eve of all 24  facts in full, be sure to head to the Oban RNLI’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rnliobanlifeboat

Here’s a quickfire version of the 23 days so far.

December  1 – We have one lifeboat at our station – a Trent class all-weather lifeboat, the Mora Edith MacDonald. Since her arrival 23 years ago, she has launched on service over 1,350 times.

December  2 – We have two women on the crew and we’ve just recruited a third.

Top left and bottom right is crew member Leonie Mead. Bottom left and top right is Lawrie McMillan.

December  3 – 300* bottles of Oban Lifeboat whisky raised over £30,000 for the RNLI. *It was 297 to be precise!

December 4 – Four babies have been born onboard Oban Lifeboat.

Four babies born on board, with this little one pictured here with Donald Matheson

December 5 – Oban lifeboat once got tasked to five call outs in one day.

Five call outs in one day.

December 6 – Oban lifeboat carries a daughter craft with a top speed of six knots and it was once used to rescue a Bernese Mountain dog.

December 7 – Both our flank stations Tobermory and Islay Lifeboat operate a Severn
class lifeboat.

December 8 – Eight lifeboats have been on service in Oban since the station was first
established in 1972.

December 9 – 90 years of fundraising. Although Oban’s lifeboat station itself wasn’t  established until 1972, fundraisers have been raising money for the RNLI in Oban since the 1930s.

Day nine represents 90 years of fundraising.

December 10 – 100 callouts in a year. In 1998, Oban lifeboat recorded 100 callouts in a year for the first time.

December 11 – Dr Colin Wilson spent 1,100 hours at sea – with the distance he covered while responding to his pager equals travelling half way around the world!

December 12 – 2012 saw crew members Andrew and Leonie first meet and five years later resulted in a lifeboat wedding.

December 13 – Oban’s 22-member crew does not have anyone assigned to number 13.

December 14 – In 2014, the team was joined by its youngest volunteer Andrew Scott, then aged 17.

December 15 – Fifteen years have passed since the Classic Wave rescue; saving three yachtsmen and one lifeboat crew member on the September 17, 2005.

15 years since the rescue of Classic Wave.

December 16 – Crew number 16 is David Isaac, he’s attended more call outs than any
other current crew member – responding over 570 times.

Sweet 16: David Isaac is king of the shouts.

December 17 – There are 17 sea lochs, more than 100 islands and around 495 miles of coastline in its patch.

December 18 – At the age of 18, each baby born onboard is gifted a commemorative bell as part of  an old maritime tradition.

December 19 – Nineteen years ago on its furthest shout, the Mora Edith MacDonald  burned 1,900 litres of fuel, with the volunteer crew travelling 130 miles.

December 20 – Oban Sea Kayak Race has raised over £20,000 for Oban RNLI
The annual race sees sea kayakers from all over the country gather to race around Kerrera.

December 21 – In 2019, the lifeboat aided 221 people and launched on 21 training exercises.

December 22 – 2022 will mark the 50th anniversary of Oban Lifeboat Station.

December 23 – Oban lifeboat Mora Edith MacDonald was the 23rd Trent class lifeboat ever built and she’s been on service for 23 years.