A NEW QUAY youngster has answered the mayday call from the RNLI to raise funds for the lifesaving charity.

The RNLI’s Mayday Mile campaign launches on Saturday 1 May, and will run throughout the month.

Lifesavers in Wales are calling on supporters to join the Mayday Mile challenge to cover at least one mile in any way they choose to raise vital funds to keep people safe on our coastline.

Steffan Williams, the son of a local RNLI crew member, says he will be going the extra distance by paddle-boarding 10 miles to raise money for the charity.

“I hope to do a lot more than a mile on my paddleboard, I’m aiming for 10 miles," said the enthusiastic 12 year-old.

"I want to raise as much money for the RNLI as they are the charity that saves lives at sea.

"My Dad is also on the crew at New Quay RNLI, and I hope to join soon. They are all volunteers and need our help to pay for equipment and lifeboats.”

Welsh RNLI crews reported a dramatic increase in lives saved last summer.

Annual rescue figures, released this week, show that during the summer of 2020 the number of lives saved by lifeboat crews rocketed by 71%.

Last year, as lockdown restrictions eased and people flocked to the coast, RNLI lifesavers saved the lives of 24 people between June and August, compared with 14 lives the previous year.

The latest annual statistics for 2020 show the RNLI’s volunteer crews at the 30 lifeboat stations between Flint and Penarth launched 918 times, aided 991 people and saved 36 lives.

RNLI lifeguards on beaches in south Wales, west Wales and Denbighshire in north Wales attended 1,046 incidents and aided 2,673 people.

With more people expected to be holidaying close to home this year, the RNLI predicts a summer like no other.

The latest figures show in the RNLI’s west region, (which includes 30 stations in Wales, 11 in the north west of England and five stations on the Isle of Man) that the majority of call outs were to people out walking and running and not expecting to end up in the water.

RNLI lifeboats launched 112 times to people requiring help after slipping or falling – significantly higher than anywhere else in the UK and Ireland.

Figures also show that people becoming cut off by the tide is a huge cause of concern across Wales and the West, with 115 lifeboat calls out to people finding themselves stranded by the tide. The figure is almost double the national average.

The summer of 2020 saw a rise in popularity of people paddle-boarding and requiring rescue, with 88 incidents last year.

Stuart Wallace, RNLI Lifesaving Lead for the West said, “We all saw the images of packed beaches around the coast as restrictions lifted last summer, which meant a hugely busy season for the RNLI in Wales and the West as a whole.

"As another summer approaches, we know that our lifesavers face more huge challenges in keeping everyone safe, which is why we’re now the ones sending out our own mayday call and asking for help.

“Our annual mayday fundraising campaign is our call for your support to help keep you and your family safe at the coast this summer.

“Our lifesavers drop everything to run to the lifeboat station when the call comes, so we’re asking our supporters to put themselves in the crew’s boots and join the Mayday Mile.

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

One of the youngest Mayday Mile participants is five-year-old Mikey Richards, from Aberystwyth.

Mikey is cycling five miles in his wellies to raise funds to keep his Dad safe at sea.

Dad Ian Richards, a volunteer helm at Aberystwyth RNLI, said he was incredibly proud of his son’s efforts.

To sign up for the Mayday Mile or to make a donation in support of the RNLI’s lifesavers visit RNLI.org/supportMayday.

To support Steffan visit: https://themaydaymile.rnli.org/fundraising/steffans-paddleboarding-mayday-challenge

To support Mikey visit: https://themaydaymile.rnli.org/fundraising/mikeys-yellow-wellie-bike-ride