TODAY is the last chance for readers of The Yorkshire Post to bid in our online auction, in aid of the Scarborough Lifeboat appeal.
Bidding closes just after 5pm on the final ten items in our month-long auction. They include the chance to be a zoo keeper for the day, and discover what it’s like to work with the Flamingo Land collection near Malton, North Yorkshire. View them here
December 25 will mark exactly a decade since Scarborough RNLI’s deputy coxswain, 57-year-old Dave Jackson, abandoned his Christmas dinner table to help a fishing boat in trouble - resulting in a 10-hour rescue operation.
“I just went straight out,” said Mr Jackson, then a mechanic.
“You don’t really think about anything else when the call comes, you just know you have to get down there. Sometimes it can be not very much. It was unusual because Christmas is generally quiet.”
When the crew gathered at the station to launch the Mersey-class lifeboat, it soon became apparent that this would not be a quick rescue mission.
There was no time for exchanging festive pleasantries. Darkness was falling and around 40 miles off the coast, a fishing boat with four men aboard had began to take on water.
Mr Jackson said: “That tells us that it’s pretty serious. If water is getting on to a boat you’ve got to get it out quick to stop it from sinking. I remember conditions being pretty rough.
“It didn’t really matter that it was Christmas Day, and it didn’t to the fishermen who were still out working, you’re just concentrating on the job.”
The father-of-three did, however, manage to get a message to his family that he was in for a long night.
As the RNLI arrived on the scene the RAF helicopter Sea King was hovering above.
Mr Jackson stayed aboard the Fanny Victoria Wilkinson, while two crew members climbed aboard the fishing boat to begin pumping water out.
“If we hadn’t have got to them it would have sunk,” added Mr Jackson.
The crew were able to get the fishing boat’s engine working again and guided it back to the safety of Scarborough sands in the early hours of Boxing Day morning. It was only when the job was done, and the lifeboat prepared for another launch, that the volunteers were able to wish one another - and their rescued party - a merry Christmas.
“It was a long time ago now but I think once we got back we talked about it,” said Mr Jackson.
“But all you really want to do at two in the morning is get back in to bed. I definitely wasn’t in the mood for leftover turkey.”
Mr Jackson and his fellow crew members are hoping readers of The Yorkshire Post can help give them extra reason to celebrate this festive period. Our annual Christmas appeal is raising money for special equipment needed to launch its new Shannon class lifeboat, which is replacing the 23-year-old Fanny Victoria Wilkinson, from 2016. View this week’s auctions
Reaching the fundraising target would certainly boost morale for the Christmas on-call team, which includes Mr Jackson, though he remains unphased by the prospect of hitting the high seas on a cold December day while the rest of the country are over-indulging.
“It wouldn’t matter,” he said.
“We all volunteer because we love it, you have to, and that means every day of the year.”