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The RNLI is looking for new volunteers to join its lifesaving crew across Co Down at its branches in Kilkeel, Downpatrick, Newcastle, Portaferry, Donaghadee and Bangor.

Just like the charity’s lifeboats, the RNLI’s fundraising team need a dedicated volunteer crew. Volunteers are at the heart of the RNLI and make up 95% of its people. They are ordinary people who do extraordinary things and without them, the organisation couldn’t continue to save lives both at sea and on inland waters.

But it’s not all about volunteering on lifeboats or at a station, there are many other ways people can give a little or a lot of their time to support the RNLI and make their own lifesaving difference.

Alan Couser of Donaghadee RNLI Fundraising Branch Alan Couser is a committee member of Donaghadee's RNLI Fundraising Branch

Alan Couser is a committee member of the Donaghadee RNLI Fundraising Branch and is chair of Donaghadee RNLI. He has been volunteering for the charity for almost 23 years.

‘I became the Honorary Secretary at Donaghadee RNLI in 2000,’ Alan explains, ‘a role that later changed and became known as Lifeboat Operations Manager and I did that for 16 years. Alongside that operational role, I was also a fundraising committee member on the branch and when I stepped down as manager of the station in 2016, I stayed on the fundraising committee.

‘I have always been involved in volunteering in some capacity from the age of 23 and I joined the lifeboat in my mid-forties. I enjoy interacting with people and knowing that we are doing some good. It is very rewarding to do something for others and to help to save lives at sea at the same time.’

Mary Creedon, RNLI Fundraising Partnership Lead hails the selfless work of people such as Alan: ‘Without our volunteers, the RNLI simply would not be able to operate the way it does today. With 92% of the RNLI’s income coming from donations, the charity relies on the generosity of supporters and on the dedication of our fundraising volunteers to help raise essential funds. Thousands of community fundraising volunteers organise a wide range of activities and events each year, contributing their time, energy and skills to raise money to save lives. Some of our fundraisers have been volunteering for many years while some just join us for a few months in the year depending on what their commitments allow.

‘We now really need to bolster that support and grow our volunteer fundraising crew. If you like to have fun, enjoy meeting new people and want to join a motivated and enthusiastic team, we encourage you to find out more and apply. You will learn new skills, gain experience and have the rewarding satisfaction of giving back. The RNLI will also provide all the necessary training and support so you can carry out your chosen role effectively.’

To find out more about how you can sign up to be a fundraising volunteer at the RNLI in Kilkeel, Downpatrick, Newcastle, Portaferry, Donaghadee and Bangor, or to apply, go to this link:

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Three fishermen were brought to safety by Wicklow RNLI on Tuesday evening (21 February) after their vessel developed mechanical problems seven miles south of Wicklow port.

The all-weather lifeboat RNLB Joanna and Henry Williams slipped its moorings at 5.20 pm from the South Quay as darkness fell and put to sea under the command of Coxswain Nick Keogh.

The lifeboat crew located the fishing vessel fifteen minutes after launching five miles east of Wicklow Head. Conditions in the area at the time were wind southerly in direction force 4, with a moderate sea and good visibility.

Coxswain Keogh carried out a quick assessment on the 18-metre vessel, it was found that the steering had locked, and this was preventing the fishermen from getting back to port under their own power. Their only option was to drop anchor and call for assistance.

A tow line was established, and the course was set for Wicklow harbour. The fishing vessel was brought alongside the East pier at 7.20 pm and the three fishermen were landed safely ashore.

Speaking about the call out, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer for Wicklow RNLI, Tommy Dover said: ‘This was a quick response by the crew this evening, which resulted in three fishermen coming ashore safely. It was also the first ‘Shout’ for Ian Thompson as a new navigator, the role is very important at sea, where time is important and accurate headings are required to ensure the lifeboat gets to a casualty as quickly as possible; we were delighted he recently qualified as an all-weather lifeboat navigator after completing a rigorous training programme.’

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Cyclists will once again ‘Lap the Lake’ to raise funds for Lough Derg RNLI on Saturday, 6 May.

Following on from last year’s successful event, in the 2023 edition participants can choose between a full 120km circuit of Lough Derg to and from Dromineer or a shorter 65km route just beyond Killaloe.

“The scenery along the way is unparalleled and gives participants a chance to appreciate the beauty of the River Shannon,” the organisers say.

Terrain-wise there is one big climb up Portroe Hill to challenge riders “but it is short and sweet and before you know it you will be flying down the other side”.

After a break in Portumna the route becomes undulating, providing plenty of small hills to keep riders working hard right up to the last kilometre.

Upon return to the lifeboat station at Lough Derg Yacht Club in Dromineer, participants can shower, relax and enjoy some food and well-earned drinks.

Event tickets are €65 per person (€50 for the shorter route) and include a goody bag. All funds raised will go to Lough Derg RNLI.

To find out more and to book your place among the riders this year, visit the Eventbrite page HERE.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

Lough Derg RNLI’s volunteers have thanked Catherine Gleeson who is retiring after five years as the station’s deputy launching authority.

Following their February monthly meeting recently, volunteers at Lough Derg held a party for Catherine, a lawyer by profession, who said that she was sad to be leaving.

She added that it had been a “great honour to volunteer at the station for the past five years”, that she was “in awe of the dedication of the crew” and has “enormous respect for your bravery out on a shout”.

Catherine said it was a “unique privilege when on duty to monitor and log the radio communications between the crew, the coastguard and casualty vessels”.

Christine O’Malley, lifeboat operations manager (LOM) at Lough Derg RNLI said that both she and Catherine joined the lifeboat operations team at the same time. Christine said she valued Catherine as a friend and fellow volunteer who offered sage advice as Christine took up the role of LOM at the station.

On behalf of the crew and operations team, helm Eleanor Hooker presented Catherine with the gift of an oil painting by Tipperary artist Áine Quinlan.

Eleanor thanked Catherine for all her hard work on behalf of the volunteers, her positivity and her brilliant sense of humour. On more than one occasion Catherine had stayed on at the station with Eleanor while she wrote up her press release following a rescue.

Catherine will be missed as a valuable member of the station, Lough Derg RNLI says.

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An 18 metre fishing boat that suffered propeller failure 27 miles south of Ballycotton yesterday (Wednesday, 15 February) was brought to safety by a lifeboat crew from Ballycotton RNLI.

Ballycotton RNLI Lifeboat The Douglas Aikman Smith was requested to launch by Valentia Coast Guard at 1.20 pm to a fishing boat that had suffered difficulties due to marine debris that had become wrapped around the propeller.

Winds of force 3-5, with two metre swell and heavy rain meant visibility was poor and conditions difficult. Once the crew had located the stricken vessel and had confirmed all crew were safe and well a secure tow line was established. Towing at a speed of six knots Ballycotton RNLI and the fishing boat returned to Ballycotton at 7.45pm. Once tied up and the crew were safely on shore a diver was able to remove the ghost net that was wrapped around the propeller.

Commenting on the callout Ballycotton RNLI Coxswain Trevor Devereux said, ‘Thankfully, all six people were wearing lifejackets and had called for help as soon as they encountered difficulties’.

Ghost nets are a major environmental hazard to marine and other wildlife, contributing to an estimated 10% of all marine plastic and causing harm to two-thirds of marine species.

The lifeboat returned to Ballycotton at 7.45pm for wash down and refuel ready for service.

The lifeboat crew were made up of Trevor Devereux as Coxswain, Adam Hussey as Mechanic, Eolan Breathnach as Navigator and Alan Cott, Cíaran Walsh and Michael Kenneally.

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The Council of The Royal National Lifeboat Institution recorded their sincere thanks to volunteer Stephen Wynne of Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI Lifeboat Station in recognition of his dedicated commitment to the RNLI since 1975 at a ceremony held last night where he was presented with the prestigious ‘Excellence in Volunteering’ award.

As Lifeboat Operations Manager, his willingness to embrace change and drive progress while supporting his volunteers was exemplary. Stephen has been an outstanding ambassador for the RNLI and has dedicated himself to building strong and lasting relationships with local stakeholders, which continue to benefit the Institution. Stephen has continuously displayed the RNLI values of being trustworthy, courageous, selfless, and dependable. His contribution has helped the RNLI to save lives at sea.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Dun Laoghaire RNLI volunteer Stephen Wynne said: ‘The success of a lifeboat station is what all the dedicated volunteers bring to it. I am glad to have been, and continue to be, of service to the great organisation that is the RNLI, and to the community at Dun Laoghaire”.

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John Sillery, the long-serving Head Launcher at Wicklow Lifeboat Station, has retired after 34 years of dedicated service to the RNLI.

John joined the RNLI on New Year’s Day 1989 as a volunteer winch operator. He was appointed head launcher at Wicklow and took charge on the slip of all launching and recovery activities for the all-weather Tyne class lifeboat RNLB Annie Blaker.

John Sillery Photo: RNLI/Nigel MillardJohn Sillery Photo: RNLI/Nigel Millard

In lifeboat history, John will be remembered for launching the last operation Tyne Class slipway lifeboat in the RNLI fleet, at 1:30pm on Sunday 28 April 2019 to the sound of loud applause, John Sillery, struck the pin which released the Annie Blaker down the slipway and into the water for the final time, ending an era that spanned over three decades at Wicklow and signalling the retirement of the last Tyne class lifeboat from the RNLI fleet.

2019 saw the arrival of the new Shannon class lifeboat at Wicklow and the same year John Sillery received his Long Service Award from the RNLI. This was in recognition for his commitment and dedication to the charity that saves lives at sea.

With the arrival of the new Shannon class lifeboat, John was responsible for launching and recovering operations at the South Quay berth.

To mark John’s retirement, family, friends and lifeboat crew gathered at the Wicklow Golf Club to celebrate his long service as a volunteer

Wicklow RNLI Operation’s Manager, Mary Aldridge paid tribute to John’s commitment over the past 34 years. Flowers were also presented to Maria Sillery, John’s wife, a token to say thank you for supporting John and sharing him with us over the years. Coxswain Nick Keogh also presented John with a specially commissioned lamp in the shape of a lighthouse, a gift from the crew to say thank you.

John Sillery with his wife Maria and family at the retirement party in the Wicklow Golf Club Photo: Tommy Dover/RNLIJohn Sillery with his wife Maria and family at the retirement party in the Wicklow Golf Club Photo: Tommy Dover/RNLI

We are indebted to John for his service at Wicklow RNLI. Since 1989 he has launched the lifeboat countless times that resulted in the saving of many lives along the Wicklow coast.

Second Coxswain Ciaran Doyle best described John during a speech on the night saying “John Sillery was Solid as a rock; he was always the first person to arrive at the station during a shout ready to launch the lifeboat. Thank you for the years.”

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The volunteer inshore lifeboat crew at Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI have had a busy weekend with two callouts. The first call came on Saturday (11 February) at 12.30 pm for a man and his dog, who had become cut off by the tide at Sandymount and the second, this morning (Sunday 12 February), at 8.21 am was to a man who had injured himself falling on rocks at Poolbeg.

The lifeboat callout to the dog walker in Sandymount yesterday, follows on from a similar callout to a woman and her dog two weeks ago, in the same location. In this case, the man had become cut off from the shore when his dog had run into the water and he was retrieving him. The tide came in very fast and he became trapped on a sandbank with his clothing soaked up to chest level. The alarm was raised and the inshore lifeboat crew from Dun Laoghaire RNLI responded. A crew member left the lifeboat and made their way to the man and his dog, where he checked their condition. They were then taken onboard the lifeboat and brought to shore, where they were met by members of Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard.

Commenting on the callout, Dun Laoghaire RNLI Helm, Laura Jackson said, ‘This was a very fast launch for the volunteer lifeboat crew and we were on the water within five minutes of our pagers being activated. What catches many people out who walk in this area, is just how fast the tide comes in and also, that it approaches from behind. You can get into difficulty so quickly and when you look up, you are surrounded by water and unsure of the depth. It can be quite disorientating.’

The second callout also involved members of Dublin Fire Service, who were on scene with a member of the public who had fallen on rocks at Poolbeg. The lifeboat crew were called out as access to the casualty was only possible by water, due to their location on the rocks. Working closely with members of Dublin Fire Service, Dun Laoghaire RNLI were able to assist with the transfer of the casualty from the rocks to Dublin Fire Service’s rescue craft. From there, they were brought to a nearby slipway, to receive further medical attention.

Dun Laoghaire RNLI Helm Laura Jackson further added, ‘It’s been a busy weekend for our inshore lifeboat crew at Dun Laoghaire with two very different callouts. We train for anything and it is always good to work alongside our colleagues in the other services, in this case, Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard and the Dublin Fire Service. We hope both casualties and our four legged one recover well from the incidents.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

On Thursday, February 9, Rosslare Harbour RNLI responded to a call early in the morning and helped two sailors.

The Irish Coast Guard called the volunteer crew at 3.20 a.m. to deploy their all-weather lifeboat and rescue two yachtsmen after their 10-metre yacht encountered trouble off the coast of Rosslare.

Six crew members were on board the lifeboat, which was coxswain by Eamonn O'Rourke. It launched immediately and headed to the incident at South Blackwater Buoy, about 12 nautical miles north of Rosslare Harbour.

The night time weather conditions were described as good, with a Force 3 wind and a calm sea.

Arriving on scene, the lifeboat crew observed that the two male sailors were safe and well. The yacht had got into difficulty when it experienced engine problems.

Having assessed the situation, a decision was made to tow the yacht and her crew safely back to Rosslare Europort, where the operation ended successfully at 6.40 am.

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If you were in Ballycotton last Friday night you might be forgiven for thinking you had stepped back in time or stepped into the wrong saloon! The Blackbird Bar was transformed into a scene straight out of Tombstone Arizona, complete with straw bales, gingham tablecloths, ‘wanted’ posters of local ‘outlaws’ and bursting with a cowboys and cowgirls ready to muster up and raise vital funds for Ballycotton RNLI.

The night was a huge success. Thanks to the generosity of the 140 guests on the night, and the support of local business and individuals, the event raised a total of €9,248 through ticket sales, donations and a raffle. As a huge bonus Green Rebel pledged to match-fund the figure raised on the night, doubling the total money raised to a phenomenal €18,496.00. And due to the generosity of local businesses who sponsored every aspect of the event, 100% of funds raised will go directly to supporting Ballycotton RNLI.

On arrival, folks were welcomed by Sheriff Áine Flynn and her trusty sidekick Síle Scanlon (dressed as a horse!), who both took a night off from volunteering as crew members on the lifeboat to greet Ballycotton bandits as they arrived. Once all pistols had been accounted for, they were offered a complimentary drink, choosing between a Kentucky Mule (sponsored by Matson’s Wine Store) or beer (courtesy of Heineken), to quench their thirst. Country music filled the air along with the sweet smell of succulent BBQ pig roasting on a spit. The Spitting Pig company cooked up a feast with roasted pig, chicken & vegetarian dishes with a mouth-watering selection of salads that had everyone coming back for more - all generously sponsored by VTSL Ireland.

Once everyone was fed and watered it didn’t take much for The Ryan Phoenix band (sponsored by The Blackbird), to quickly get the crowd on the dance floor. Pumping out a selection of rousing country tunes, a sea of Stetsons, check shirts and denim danced the night away and when the band finished playing DJ Mossie Tattan made sure to keep the fun and dancing going till closing.

Fundraising committee member Fiona Clark said “We pulled this event together in a very short time, but once the theme was agreed it didn’t take long for people to get in the spirit of it, with one local farmer supplying us with straw bales at the last minute. We are very lucky to have such great supporters and patrons of the Ballycotton RNLI, who year after year give so generously to help this crucial service that is run solely on donations. We want to give special thanks to our generous sponsors including The Blackbird Bar, VTSL Ireland, MTA1, Matson’s Wine Store and of course Green Rebel. And there are many more who supported with raffle prizes and donations - it really does take a village, and it was wonderful to see everyone put so much effort into dressing up and having a fun time for a great cause. On the strength of the night, we hope to go bigger again next year. So, if you missed out you have a whole year to plan your costume!”

The RNLI is a registered charity supported solely by donations and fundraising. It costs approximately €250,000 per year to keep the station and lifeboat operational, €1,667 to train one volunteer crew member and €1,786 to kit them out. Funds raised at the event will ensure that the crew has the necessary equipment and training to continue to keep our coastline safe.

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