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Fundraising for Fish Supper: It’s the least I can do for saving my life in 2003

Lifeboats News Release

Survivor of a life changing jet-ski accident and mum-of-five, Debbie Hales, is taking part in the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)’s annual Fish Supper fundraiser this October to say ‘thank you’ for saving her life and trying to save her husband, Ian.

Debbie and her family say they feel ‘indebted to the RNLI’ after volunteer crew from Blackpool Lifeboat Station answered the call for help after a freak incident in Blackpool on Good Friday, 2003. It left Debbie with life threatening injuries and her husband, Ian, sadly lost his life.

Debbie was with her husband and three of their five children enjoying a family day out, when tragedy struck.

Debbie has no memory of the incident and only recollects what her children and RNLI crew could tell her:

‘We went from Squire’s Gate, up to the North Pier and as we got to North Pier, for some reason, I don’t know whether Ian had a heart attack, but unfortunately we hit one of the stanchions. I broke my jaw bone, and it took a chunk out of my arm and side of my body.

‘We were found face down, drown.

‘The RNLI saved me. They didn’t just save me: they’ve saved a mum, a grandma, an auntie, a sister; it just goes on and on. I cannot thank them enough.’

Since recovering from her injuries, Debbie has worked tirelessly as a fundraiser and supporter and has raised over £5,000 for the charity that saves lives at sea.

One of her sons, Michael, was at Squire’s Gate with the equipment on that fateful day. Fifteen years on and he also supports the RNLI’s Fish Supper campaign. He hosted an event at his restaurant in Pleasington, north-west England, with close family and friends.

Debbie is as passionate about the RNLI now as she was 15 years ago. She says:

‘There are various ways you can fundraise. We know people are not always comfortable stood on a street corner or stranding in a supermarket with a collection bucket, so, hosting a Fish Supper can be an easier way for anyone to get involved.

‘Fish Suppers can be held in the comfort of your own home raising money for a great cause with your family and friends.’

Thousands of Fish Supper events are being held all over the UK and Ireland between 5-21 October 2018, to raise awareness of lifeboat crew who drop everything and often sacrifice their own meal times and special occasions at a moment’s notice – answering the call of their pagers – to rescue those in trouble at sea.

Community Fundraising Manager, Emma Clegg, says:Fundraisers are invaluable to the RNLI as we rely totally on donations to fund the charity, including vital volunteer crew training and crew kit.

‘Anyone interested in helping by hosting their own fish supper can visit RNLI.org/fishsupper to sign up and to get inspiration from our Tasty Recipes and download our fun fishy quiz and party materials. Donations don’t have to be submitted until 2 December 2018. We’d love to see how fundraisers get on, so they can share their event on social media using the hashtag #RNLIFishSupper.’

In 2017, RNLI lifeboats launched 8,436 times and its volunteers rescued 8,072 people across the UK and Republic of Ireland. On average 22 people per day were saved.

Notes to editors

  • Debbie’s interview can be viewed at https://www.rnlivideolibrary.org.uk/play/OMsGybh8.

  • Fish Supper is in its fourth year. Over £530,000 was raised through Fish Supper donations between 2015 and 2017.

  • RNLI media contacts

    For more information please contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.

    RNLI online

    For more information on the RNLI please visit rnli.org. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre rnli.org/news-and-media.

    Key facts about the RNLI

    The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,400 lives.

Debbie Hales is leaning against a curved hand rail on Blackpool beach looking at the camera

RNLI

Debbie Hales on Blackpool Beach
Michael Hales is stood in chef whites with a RNLI apron on and stood next to his mum, Debbie Hales. They are stood in front of a rail, draping a RNLI flag and holding a RNLI collection bucket

RNLI

Debbie and Michael Hales outside the Butler's Arms, Pleasington
Michael Hales is in the kitchen of his restaurant serving up fish and chips to the pass

RNLI

Michael Hales at the pass at Butler's Arms, Pleasington
Fish placed on top of a pile of chips with some mushy peas and tartar sauce

RNLI

Fish and Chips Served at Michael and Debbie Hale's Fish Supper event 2018

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.