Scotland's RNLI heroes issues their own Mayday call after surge in rescue callouts

Scotland’s lifeboats rescued more than 400 people last year after a dramatic increase in emergencies compared with the previous year, it has been revealed.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) issued its own Mayday call for funds after rescue figures for 2021 showed a total of 408 lives were saved by the charity’s lifeboat crews and lifeguards last year in Scotland alone.

The total represents more than one life saved every single day north of the Border, and a 17% increase in the number of people saved compared with 2020 when there were 239.

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Last year, Scotland's volunteer lifeboat crews at 46 lifeboat stations launched 1176 times - a 10% increase on 2020 - and aided a total of 987 people. These crews spent 9245 hours at sea on rescue missions, 1117 hours more than in the previous year.

Aerial shot of the Queensferry RNLI lifeboat on a 'shout' in the Firth of Forth Pic: Forth Air Ltd

The RNLI's own Mayday call comes as it faces another busy summer. With high numbers of visitors expected as people continue to choose to holiday closer to home, the charity says it needs more funds to ensure its vital lifesaving service is able to keep everyone safe.

Scottish lifeboat crews saw an increase in incidents involving paddleboarders, swimmers and sailing vessels in 2021 -- a trend the charity predicts will continue in 2022 with leisure activities on the water a popular pastime for many people keen to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The RNLI’s Mayday national fundraiser begins on Sunday May 1 and will run for the whole month across the UK and Ireland, including the Mayday Mile, in which participants cover a mile raising funds.

Claire MacDonald, RNLI Fundraising and Partnerships Lead for Scotland, said: "It’s clear from these new figures that demand for our services is continuing to rise, with our lifesavers dropping everything to run to the lifeboat station when the call comes.

"Every penny raised during Mayday will go towards ensuring we are ready to save even more lives this year.’

Kinghorn Lifeboat Station in Fife recorded a bumper year of rescues with the station, which is crewed entirely by volunteers, launching 73 times in 2021. A standout ‘shout’ for the crew was back in October 2021 when the team saved the life of a swimmer who got into difficulty off the coast of Kirkcaldy.

Neil Chalmers, a Kinghorn volunteer crew member, said: "Summer is our busiest time of year, with thousands of people at risk of getting into danger by the water -- ordinary people just enjoying days out with family or friends.

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"Mayday is our own call for help, as we rely on the generosity of the public to take part in events like the Mayday Mile and raise the funds that allow us to be there when we’re needed most. But we need to be ready. Training, kit, stations, fuel... these are just some of the things we need to save lives and that your fundraising can help provide."

* The RNLI’s Mayday national fundraiser begins on Sunday 1 May and will run for the whole month across the UK and Ireland.

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