New shop volunteers needed to help save lives at sea in county Wicklow

The RNLI is looking for new shop volunteers to join its lifesaving teams at Wicklow and Arklow RNLI.

Just like the charity’s lifeboats, the RNLI’s retail team need a dedicated volunteer crew, people of all ages and abilities – who can give a little time to help save lives at sea.

Bernie Jarrett has been fundraising for Wicklow RNLI for 10 years and is the current Shop Manager.

‘My first interaction with the RNLI was as a child when I would go down to the golf club with my father who was a golfer. There was a collection box there in the shape of a lifeboat house and when you put money into it, the lifeboat would launch down the slip. I loved it and was always drawn to it. It was years later when I was a member of the choir in Wicklow town that I was approached by an RNLI fundraiser who was retiring and asked if I would be interested in helping out. I attended the AGM and was impressed with what I heard and got involved.’

As for what Bernie finds most rewarding about being a shop volunteer, she says: ‘I remember working one Christmas in the shop and we had just finished the Christmas raffle and I was standing outside in the lashing rain waiting for people to collect prizes. As I was waiting, the lifeboat was requested to launch on a call out. I watched as the volunteer crew ran from every direction to the station to get kitted out and on to the lifeboat and go to the aid of someone in trouble. In that moment, I realised what I was doing here. It is rewarding to know that in some small way by giving your time you have helped to raise the vital funds to help save lives at sea.’

Now Bernie is encouraging others to get involved: ‘You can gain some invaluable skills and training whilst volunteering at a shop and you become part of an incredible team.

‘If you enjoy meeting and interacting with people, are confident to make a sale and have a couple of hours a week to dedicate to the lifeboat, it really is a role you will love.’

RNLI shops started out as simple cake stalls run by volunteers to raise money for their local lifeboat station.

‘These stalls started selling commemorative RNLI products in around 1920 and quickly moved on to selling souvenirs and Christmas cards with all profits helping save lives at sea,’ Pauline McGann, RNLI Community Manager explained.

‘Today, we have over 170 RNLI shops around the coast and inland, all of which are still run by our dedicated volunteers. They attract many visitors throughout the year and stock an excellent range of unique souvenirs and gifts.

‘The pandemic unfortunately hit our shops hard as they closed for periods of time in line with Covid-19 restrictions. We were delighted when we could reopen them safely in accordance with government guidance and are looking forward to welcoming our visitors in 2022. To do this successfully, we want to grow our team of shop volunteers and are looking for people who enjoy interacting with others, can help us to provide a high level of customer service and ensure our shops continue to be friendly and welcoming places.’

To find out more about how you can help generate vital funds, promote the work of the RNLI, and apply, click on the following links:

For Wicklow: Shop Volunteer – https://volunteering.rnli.org/vacancy/shop-volunteerwicklow-474209.html?_ga=2.66709166.1807215458.1644819346-1504325062.1603365337

For Arklow: https://volunteering.rnli.org/vacancy/shop-volunteerarklow-474188.html?_ga=2.100904705.1807215458.1644819346-1504325062.1603365337

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