We queued up at Garryvoe in East Cork on Christmas morning to park our car. I wondered had I hibernated for six months and awoken in a different season. When it was our turn to go we had to park the car three quarters way down the promenade and walk back to the hub of the activity. This was not a normal day; the swimmers were all going to swim for charity.
We got out of the car wrapped in our winter woollies and fleece lined jackets. A strong wind was blowing, bringing with it the rain and the cold. We were greeted by people wrapped in towels. Many had Santa hats on and towels wrapped around them. I felt the odd one out with my jacket keeping me warm and dry.
There was no hanging around. They were on a mission and that was to do what they were paid to do, get wet. The Irish lifeboat service was one of several charities represented at Garryvoe this Christmas morning. The banter was good humoured but their reason for being there was serious.
In 2010, when many were sitting down to their Christmas dinner the crew of the Ballycotton RNLI lifeboat launched to assist three persons who had become stranded on the island off Ballycotton pier by the incoming tide. Ralph Gunn is one of many who happily give up an hour on Christmas Day for this well needed charity. Who knows when you or a friend or even a member of your family will need to call on this service? The Irish lifeboat service depends on donations and fundraising events to operate this free service. Ballycotton in East Cork is one of over forty RNLI lifeboat stations throughout Ireland who are on standby 24 / 7 and they are very thankful for all the support they have received in 2011.