WHETHER IT is rushing to a ship in trouble or to the aid of a coastal casualty, the army of volunteers who man the boats and beaches of Yorkshire are accustomed to racing against time.
But this is one mission they cannot complete alone.
With just over a month to go until December 25, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution has joined forces with The Yorkshire Post in a bid to secure funding for a Christmas present vital to its future work in the region.
This year’s Yorkshire Post festive appeal is aiming to raise enough money to secure specialist equipment need to ensure Scarborough’s new, state-of-the-art £2m Shannon class lifeboat can launch on rescues from 2016.
A year-long appeal for the £200,000 Supacat launcher has attracted huge support - but £40,000 remains in the drive to give the crew the tools it needs to begin its life-saving work aboard this “new generation” of lifeboat.
While the current Mersey class lifeboat Fanny Victoria Wilkinson and Frank Stubbs has saved countless lives during its 23 years on the high seas, it is nearing the end of its life.
And its replacement, the Shannon, is set to dramatically reduce the time it takes to reach a casualty. In a world where every second counts, this could mean the difference between life and death.
“We’re aiming to get to 90 per cent of casualties within 10 nautical miles in 10 minutes of notification,” explained station manager Dave Horsley.
“The maximum speed the Mersey can reach is 16 or 17 knots (per hour), the Shannon can reach 25.”
Statistics have shown the need to equip the charity with the tools it needs to serve Yorkshire’s vast coastline has never been greater. Last year, the crew at Scarborough RNLI’s lifeboat launched 17 times, and its crew and lifeguards rescued a total of 63 people, almost double the number rescued the previous year.
Mr Horlsey added: “Our coastline is heavily-used, whether it’s on our beaches, fishing boats or leisure crafts.
“We want everyone to be able to enjoy the sea safely, but things can turn very quickly and we want to make sure we’re there for when things go wrong.”
On top of reaching emergencies quicker, the Shannon and launch equipment is designed to make less work for the very special people who frequently risk life and limb and expose themselves to the elements in the name of helping others.
Mr Horsley said: “When you come back from a call-out you’re first job is to get it ready to be re-launched, and at the moment there’s a lot of manual handling involved.
“There’s nothing worse when you’ve been out at sea for eight or nine hours and you’ve got to start dragging parts around the beach.
“This new equipment will make life much easier, especially at times when all you want to do is get nice and warm and get a cup of tea down you.”
High-tech on-board equipment will help crews keep on the ball and improve communications between each team.
While the public has already shown great generosity towards the cause, The Yorkshire Post’s Christmas Appeal, in partnership with PR agency Cicada Communications, will attempt to give the charity the missing piece of the jigsaw through its “money can’t buy” auction.
From next Saturday, readers will be given the chance to bid on a series of lots, all truly unique experiences donated by businesses and organisations across Yorkshire and beyond.
Among the one-of-a-kind offerings set to get bidding off to a flying start is the chance for four people to have Sunday lunch with Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive Gary Verity at The Star Inn at Harome, which this year regained its Michelin star, a tour of the House of Commons, with rail travel, afternoon tea and tickets to Prime Minister’s Questions donated by Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill.
The managing director of Cicada Communications, Di Burton, said: “The RNLI does a superb job patrolling the Yorkshire coastline and is a much-admired charity whose rescue teams are almost entirely made up of volunteers.
“The Yorkshire coastline means so much to so many of us and I urge everyone to get behind this appeal to support the RNLI in its work long into the future, ensuring the coast remains a safe place for everyone who lives and visits there.”