Exmouth RNLI volunteer reveals crew’s Christmas sacrifice – ‘dropping everything’ to save others

Lifeboat volunteers from Exmouth are gearing up to sacrifice family festivities, turkey dinners and opening presents on Christmas day if their pagers go off.

Exmouth lifeboat crew member, Geoff Mills, is one of scores of RNLI volunteers up and down the country who will today – December 25 – put the safety of others first while most of the UK is at home celebrating with family or friends.

Figures released by the RNLI show that the crew at Exmouth Lifeboat Station have launched each year during the Christmas period since 2017, with a total of 14 launches and seven people helped over the five-year period.

Geoff, an all-weather lifeboat and inshore lifeboat crew volunteer, who experienced his first Christmas on call last year, said: “It’s an incredible feeling being there for those who need help.”

Dedicated Geoff, on call over the 2022 festive season, said 2021 New Year celebrations included ‘dropping everything’ while out with his wife – to rescue a child with their family and dog cut off by the tide at Orcombe Point.


Exmouth RNLI volunteer Geoff Mills.
Photo: John Thorogood/RNLI.

Geoff said: “On New Year’s Eve, my pager went off as I was out shopping with my wife.

“I had to drop everything, leave my wife, and run to the station, where we launched the inshore lifeboat following reports of two adults, a child and a dog cut off by the tide at Orcombe Point in Exmouth.

“When we arrived on scene, there was about 10ft of beach left and the tide was high.

“The family were going to be in serious trouble if they couldn’t get off the beach, as it was going to be under metres of water in a matter of time.

“It was a challenging rescue as weather conditions were rough.

“The all-weather lifeboat had to be requested to ensure the rescue was conducted safely.

“We transferred the mother and child first onto the all-weather lifeboat, followed by the father and dog, which proved to be quite tricky in rough conditions, but we did it.

“Thankfully, the family returned safely to shore, and were able to celebrate the New Year together.”


Exmouth all-weather lifeboat.
Photo: RNLI.

The RNLI said each year its volunteers – including the Exmouth crew – were prepared to leave their loved-ones to save others at Christmas.

Last Christmas (December 24, 2021–January 1, 2022), RNLI lifeboat crews across the UK and Ireland saved the lives of eight people – the highest number recorded in five years.

The charity’s volunteer crews helped 88 people during the festive period in 2021 – an 87 per cent increase from 2020 and the highest number recorded since 2018, the RNLI said.

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