Florence’s 40 years of service to Wexford RNL
With six new crew members being sent to train in the RNLI headquarters in London in the coming weeks, expensive new equipment required on an almost weekly basis, and an annual operating cost in excess of €100,000, the logistics of running Wexford RNLI are never straightforward.
And when you consider that 100% of the organisation's funding comes from charitable donations and that all of its members are volunteers, it's all the more remarkable that this service not only continues to stay afloat, but that it serves the community of Wexford on such a consistent basis.
But now, as its latest recruits are sent to the RNLI College in Poole, London for specialist training, at a cost of €1,700 per head, those at the core of Wexford Lifeboat are keen to let the public know just how they can assist this vital, often life-saving, local resource.
'The Wexford Lifeboat Station Shop is now open every Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. with all proceeds going directly back to the organisation,' says Lorraine Galvin, a core member of the Wexford RNLI team. 'There's lots of new stock there now too, the shop is really our main source of funds for the lifeboats in Wexford of which there are five throughout the county.'
And the person behind the counter at the shop sums up the kind of dedication and commitment commonplace among members of Wexford RNLI. 'Florence Jenkins works in the shop every weekend. She's been volunteering with the RNLI for over 40 years, she's 83 years' old now,' confirms Lorraine.
Florence's loyalty to the cause is indicative of the role Wexford RNLI plays in the lives of those who run it. Constantly on call, Lorraine explains how she can't travel more than a few miles outside of the town without informing her fellow volunteers.
'All our crews are on call all the time, that's how the service works. We carry pagers and if someone rings 999 that's relayed to us, typically we get a boat in the water eight minutes after the pager goes off. If I even go to Waterford for the day I have to be aware of who's available to go on the water, it's a constant commitment.'
However, Lorraine says she wouldn't have it any other way and that it's invariably the same for everyone who joins the RNLI.
'There's a lot of training involved. But once people come on board they tend to stay around. It's great training, you can learn a lot and use the skills in your day-to-day as well, you'd be surprised how often it relates.
We're always looking for new members, the only requirement is you have to live or work within a 3km radius of the station. The majority of people who join don't actually come form a maritime background though. You don't ever have to have been on a boat before.'