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RNLI systems technician Euan Noble was enjoying his weekend off at Portrush’s East Strand when his girlfriend Charlotte spotted two children struggling in the water on Sunday afternoon (21 August).

Euan, an experienced surfer who works to maintain the mechanics of lifeguard equipment in the Ballymoney RNLI Support Centre, knew that there was a rip current in that area of the bay next to the Arcadia building.

Back on shore, RNLI lifeguard Luca, who was on patrol along the East Strand on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast, also noticed the children struggling with bodyboards by the rocks.

Luca radioed RNLI lifeguards Michael and Jenna, who were out on a paddleboard exercise. Michael started to paddle out to the rocks, about 200 metres away from the black-and-white-flagged area where Euan had been surfing.

Jenna went back to shore and ran along the water’s edge before picking up a rescue board to swim out to help Euan and Michael.

Euan could see the lifeguards respond but based on his own location in the water he knew that he would reach the children first, so he quickly paddled around to them.

He reached out to the young girl in the water and managed to pull her up and out of the rip current, onto his own surfboard.

In the meantime, the girl’s brother had managed to get himself up onto the rocks, so Euan manoeuvred his board around to him where they could safely stay until the lifeguards reached them.

Lifeguards Michael and Jenna arrived on scene and carried out casualty care for some minor injuries before getting the children back to shore on the rescue boards.

Given the strength of the rip, Michael held the boy under the arms and waded to shore with the rescue board over the rocky coastline.

On his impromptu role change from technician to lifesaver, Euan said: “I’ve been caught out by this particular rip current before, they are unpredictable and they can catch you very quickly, these things do happen.

“I usually work with lifeguard equipment, and I’ve never been a lifeguard, so my priority was getting the children into the hands of the lifeguards as safely as possible.

“I am an experienced surfer and familiar with the sea state around this area. Luckily, the children were at a lifeguarded beach, where they could be rescued quickly.”

RNLI lifeguard Michael also notes the dangers of the rip current by Arcadia, saying: “This spot, at the rocks near the corner of the bay by the Arcadia building, is dangerous for bathing because of this strong, permanent rip current.

“When you visit a lifeguarded beach, always check the flags. The area safest for swimming and bodyboarding is always between the red-and-yellow flags, and the area safest for paddleboarding and surfing is always between the black-and-white flags.

“I’m proud of our RNLI team, that includes my lifeguarding colleagues and our staff, in [Sunday’s] rescue that was Euan who knew what to do to support us.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats

RNLI stations in Northern Ireland are celebrating several volunteers who were presented with long-service medals at Belfast Castle recently.

Held this year for the first time since the Covid pandemic, the event was attended by the deputy chairman of the RNLI, Eddie Donaldson; RNLI head of region (Ireland) Anna Classon; and trustee and council member for Great Britain and Ireland, Paddy McLaughlin.

The celebration was held to recognise the long service of volunteers from stations across Northern Ireland.

Patricia Crossley from the Ballymoney fundraising team received her 50-year award. Pat first got involved after when returning from a family outing to Belfast on 31 January 1953 and saw the lit-up revolving news on a building which said the Princess Victoria had sunk and the Donaghadee lifeboat was involved in the rescue.

Pat’s family had always holidayed in Donaghadee, and her father was a lifeboat supporter, so the following morning they went to Donaghadee and watched as the lifeboat The Sir Samuel Kelly returned with some survivors.

On that day Pat said to her father that when she was older, she’d love to do something to help lifeboats. So, from the 1960s to the present day Pat has been involved with the RNLI.

She was a flag day collector in Lisburn and Hillsborough, and since moving north 40 years ago has been involved with the Ballymoney branch, at the invitation of the then branch secretary and headmaster of Dalriada School, the late Alan Reynolds.

Pat became Flag Day organiser, a post she still holds. Pat also holds her silver and gold badge presented by the RNLI.

Jo May from Portrush and Portstewart fundraising team received her 40-year award. Jo first got involved with the Portrush branch of the RNLI after she was SCUBA diving at Ballintoy in the early 1980s and got caught in a rip tide.

Luckily, she didn’t need the lifeboat that day as she was rescued by a fisherman who happened to be on scene. But from that day has had a healthy respect for the power of the sea and has always been an enthusiastic supporter.

Jo has been a stalwart of the fundraising events, and with her sense of style and expertise in hospitality her events are always expertly run and organised.

Jo’s latest triumph and her proudest achievement was the champagne breakfast with Graeme McDowell that she organised during the Open when it first came to Portrush, raising £36,000. Jo’s particular event is the annual RNLI BBQ held at 55º North in Portrush.

Jo said recently: “I love volunteering with the RNLI, and will continue to fundraise as long as I am physically able. The team was called the Ladies’ Guild in the early days, but it has certainly evolved since then. I enjoy being part of such a vibrant team.”

Those recognised on the day also include the following:

  • Kerry Gregg, ex-coxswain and deputy launching authority at Portrush RNLI received his 20-year award.
  • Carl Kennedy, water safety officer and deputy launching authority at Portrush RNLI received his 20-year award.
  • Bernie Riley of the Ballymoney branch received a 20-year award.

Others who were awarded long service medals but couldn’t attend the ceremony were:

  • Rodney Byrne, box secretary — 40-year award (Portrush)
  • Mac Pollock - 40 years (Ballymoney)
  • Anne McCusker – 30 years (Ballymoney)
  • David Elliot - 30 years (Ballymoney)
  • Bill McCormick - 30 years (Ballymoney)
  • Dorothy and John Weeks, retired shop supervisors - 20-year award (Portrush)
  • Judy Nelson, volunteer lifeboat press officer - 20-year award (Portrush)
Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portrush RNLI was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard on Saturday afternoon (9 July) to reports of a 35-foot yacht in difficulty between White Park Bay and Rathlin Island, off Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast.

The all-weather lifeboat launched under coxswain Des Austin at 1.54pm into near perfect conditions with a clear sky, calm sea and excellent visibility.

Arriving on scene at 2.30pm, the lifeboat crew quickly established that the yacht with two persons on board had fouled its prop on a rope.

A crew member was transferred to the yacht to try to release the rope but this was not possible. A further assessment was carried out and it was agreed that the best course of action was to tow the yacht to the nearest safe port which was Ballycastle, where the yacht and lifeboat arrived at 3.55pm.

Lifeboat operations manager Beni McAllister said of the foiled propeller: “Unfortunately, this can be a common occurrence with a yacht, but the couple on board did the right thing by contacting the Coastguard and asking for assistance. Our volunteer crew are trained for this type of incident, so it was all very straightforward.

“We would also like to congratulate our newest volunteer crew member Roo McCrudden on his first shout with Portrush RNLI.”

Roo McCrudden was on the lifeboat in his first shout with the Portrush RNLI crew | Credit: RNLI/Dave RobinsonRoo McCrudden was on the lifeboat in his first shout with the Portrush RNLI crew | Credit: RNLI/Dave Robinson

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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The teams at Portrush RNLI were delighted to hear that one of their fundraisers, John Martin, has been chosen as one of the 490 Platinum Champions due to his outstanding commitment to volunteering.

The Platinum Champion Awards were launched by the Royal Voluntary Service, of whom The Duchess of Cornwall is the president, to celebrate extraordinary volunteers Individuals and organisations were asked to nominated people who go the extra mile and deserved to be recognised in Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee year.

John was nominated by Nuala Muldoon, RNLI community manager for Northern Ireland.

John had been a frequent visitor to Portrush on the North Coast on holiday for many years, and when he moved to the area 10 years ago, he called into the lifeboat station to see if he could contribute in any way, which is where his fundraising story began.

Since then, John has been an integral part of the Portrush RNLI fundraising team, even going so far to having his head shaved in public to raise funds.

At that stage and during the early days of the pandemic, John was chair of the fundraising team, and in April 2022 he took over as the lifeboat shop manager, bringing energy and innovation to the outlet.

During the first months of COVID-19, the public could not come into the shop so John and his team took the shop outside the lifeboat station with a gazebo — operating in all weathers.

The ‘Pop-Up Shop’ became a fixture in the town as well as a real focal point for people walking to and from the harbour. As well as raising much-needed funds for the station, the gazebo also helped raised awareness of the RNLI.

Beni McAllister, Portrush’s lifeboat operations manager said: “The team at Portrush RNLI are delighted that John has been recognised in this way. He has been a real powerhouse in terms of keeping the shop going during the pandemic and exploring other ways of raising funds for the station during a very difficult time.

“We look forward to presenting him with his badge and certificate at a ceremony at the station.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portrush RNLI was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard at 11.10pm last night (Sunday 5 June) to reports of a 31ft yacht without power at the Barmouth near Coleraine.

The all-weather lifeboat under coxswain Des Austin launched at 11.35pm into near perfect conditions, with a clear sky, excellent visibility and a calm sea.

The volunteer lifeboat crew arrived on scene 10 minute later and escorted the yacht with two persons on board back to Portrush Harbour on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast and towed her alongside.

Carl Kennedy, deputy launching authority at Portrush said: “Unfortunately, this can happen with a yacht, but the couple on board did the right thing by contacting us.

“If you are taking part in any activities at sea, make sure you have a means of contacting the coastguard in case you do encounter difficulties. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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A lifeboat mechanic from Portrush RNLI was invited to join His Royal Highness (HRH) The Duke of Kent at St James’s Palace last week (Friday 27 May) to be presented with a Vellum from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) for his part in a daring rescue that saved the life of a teenage boy off Portstewart Head in September 2020. Portrush RNLI station mechanic Dave Robinson attended the event with his wife Livvy, where he was awarded a Vellum for his actions that day.

The Duke – the RNLI’s President – attended a lunch for the 16 volunteers and employees and their partners, including lifeboat crew from Castletownbere, Rosslare Harbour, Kilmore Quay, Dunmore East, Portrush, Trearddur Bay, Salcombe, and Hayling Island, along with RNLI lifeguards from Mawgan Porth in Cornwall.

A total of 12 RNLI Medals for Gallantry were presented to crew and lifeguards by The Duke and six crew were accorded Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum.

Portrush RNLI Station Mechanic Dave Robinson was awarded a Vellum for his role in saving the life of a teenage boy in the sea off Portstewart Head in 2020. The lifeboat mechanic attached himself to a heaving line before jumping into the turbulent water and bringing the exhausted young man to safety. More information including video of the rescue here.

Portrush RNLI Station Mechanic Dave RobinsonHRH with Portrush RNLI Station Mechanic Dave Robinson Photo: Beaumont Photography

Lifeboat crew at Portrush RNLI are receiving two awards from the Institution for the rescue. Along with the Vellum for Dave Robinson, the Coxswain Des Austin, will receive a Chairman’s Letter of Thanks for ‘his professionalism, seamanship, and leadership under severe pressure’ during the rescue. He will receive his Letter at a presentation to be held locally later.

The callout occurred on Friday September 25th, 2020, when lifeboat crew responded to reports of a young boy spotted in the water off Portstewart Head. On arrival at the scene, lifeboat crew observed a teenage boy in the surf, waving his arms and flailing, while being pulled out to sea by the tide. In a dramatic rescue, a heaving line was attached to Mechanic Dave Robinson’s lifejacket, and he entered the water to reach the teenager, keeping hold of him in the choppy waters. Coxswain Des Austin manoeuvred the lifeboat in the breaking swell, to keep as close as possible to the casualty, while the mechanic kept hold of the boy until the lifeboat crew were able to hoist both to safety and return to shore.

Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said: ‘RNLI gallantry awards are given for saving life at sea and celebrate the courage, skill and dedication shown by our charity’s lifesavers.

‘To receive their awards at St James’s Palace from The Duke of Kent is an honour and as the charity’s chief executive, I am humbled and proud of all our volunteers and employees that make up this incredible institution. Every one of them and their families give so much to the charity and our purpose of saving lives at sea.’

Commenting on the honour for the station, Portrush RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Beni McAllister said, ‘Words can’t describe how proud I am of our incredible lifeboat crew in Portrush. We are all delighted for Dave on his gallantry award and for Des who will also be recognised for his role in the rescue. No crewmember goes out to get recognition or reward. They are selfless people who drop everything to answer a call for help and the people they leave behind at home and in the community take great pride in their actions. We had a full crew onboard the lifeboat that day, each one of them focused on saving that young boy’s life.’

Portrush RNLI mechanic and Vellum recipient Dave Robinson added, ‘Receiving the RNLI Gallantry award from HRH the Duke of Kent was a huge honour and I felt I was receiving it on behalf of all the crew in Portrush RNLI. I remember that day so clearly and I knew that boy had only minutes left before he was in danger of drowning. I entered the water and trusted in my crew and my training and just went for it. That poor boy was exhausted when I reached him and the whole crew were elated that he was saved. I’m grateful for the Vellum and to receive it with my wife, Livvy, by my side.’

Among the awardees where the Coxswains of three Irish lifeboats Eamonn O’Rourke (Rosslare), Eugene Kehoe (Kilmore Quay) and Roy Abrahamsson (Dunmore East) who were all presented with Bronze Medals for Gallantry for their role in a rescue in October 2020 that saved nine lives and prevented a 100-metre cargo vessel, the Lily B, carrying 4,000 tonnes of coal, from hitting rocks at Hook Head. More info here

Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke was also accorded a vellum for a rescue during Storm Ophelia in 2017 during conditions described by the crew as some of the worst they had ever witnessed. The crew battled 10-metre seas in force 12 conditions to save three lives. More information here

HRH The Duke of Kent has been President of the RNLI since 1969 after succeeding both his parents as President of the charity.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portrush RNLI in Northern Ireland came to the aid of eight people last night (Tuesday 24 May) after their motorboats got into difficulty off The Skerries.

The inshore lifeboat was requested to launch at 8.15 pm following a report that two 9m motorboats which were on passage from Islay in Scotland were experiencing engine difficulties a mile and a half north east of The Skerries. One engine had cut off completely and was under tow by a larger 13m twin-engine boat which was also on the passage from Scotland.

Weather conditions at the time were partially cloudy but with good visibility, a moderate to choppy sea and a Force 3-4 westerly wind.

Once on scene, the inshore lifeboat helmed by Johnny Weston went to the aid of the second 9m boat which was starting to cut out but the crew observed that it was making some headway and the boat managed to make its own way back to Portrush unaided.

Meanwhile, the 13m vessel began to encounter engine difficulties while undertaking the tow of the other 9m motorboat and the inshore lifeboat was requested to help. The lifeboat subsequently took the tow of the 9m vessel over while Portrush RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat was launched to escort the 13m motorboat from inside The Skerries rocks. The larger boat then managed to make it back to Portrush harbour by itself.

Speaking following the call out, Beni McAllister, Portrush RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘We were glad to be of assistance last night to help the crew of the three vessels as they encountered problems. As the summer approaches, we would remind anyone planning a trip to sea to always respect the water. Always carry a means of communication and as soon as you start to encounter difficulties, dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.’

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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Portrush RNLI was requested to launch by Belfast Coastguard shortly after 9am yesterday morning (Sunday 27 March) to assist with the search for a dog that had fallen off cliffs at Port Coon near the Giant’s Causeway.

The owner and the dog were regulars on this walk at the causeway on Northern Ireland’s North Coast and knew the area well.

The inshore lifeboat and volunteer crew launched at 9.12am into perfect sea and weather conditions and arrived very quickly at the designated area.

Helm Johnny Weston, Portrush put the other crew members on the rocks to check for the dog as directed by the owner at the cliff top.

The search then moved further round the cliff, where the dog was found. Sadly it had died at the scene.

The crew carefully retrieved the dog and returned it to its owner waiting at Portballintrae Harbour.

Judy Nelson, Portrush RNLI volunteer lifeboat press Officer said: “This is never going to be an easy callout for our volunteer crew who are all dog lovers, but it was important for them to return the dog to its owner.

“The owner and the dog did this walk on a regular basis and knew the area well. However, we would advise that if your dog does get into difficulty, do not try to go after it yourself. Please dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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It was a busy afternoon on International Women’s Day for one of Portrush RNLI’s three women crew volunteers as the lifeboat was launched on Tuesday 8 March to reports of a fishing vessel in difficulty.

The 26ft vessel with two men on board had reported engine problems and was drifting towards land on Northern Ireland’s North Coast.

In response, the all-weather lifeboat launched at 12.46pm. Weather conditions were overcast with a choppy sea and bitterly cold southerly winds with gusts of around 50mph (80kmh).

The lifeboat arrived on scene at 1.34pm and the crew carried out a dynamic risk assessment to decide on the most appropriate course of action for the fishermen and their vessel.

The fishermen had been dragging their anchor but were forced to deploy the extra weight of their trawling gear to anchor the boat until Portrush RNLI arrived on scene.

It was agreed that the best plan was to attach a tow line and tow the vessel to safety and to the nearest harbour which was Greencastle.

The anchor and the trawl gear were left in situ with a floating buoy for recovery later.

Following a successful tow, the volunteer crew — which included Debs Smyth, one of Portrush’s three female crew members — returned to station at 4.49pm.

Beni McAllister Lifeboat Operations Manager said: “Once the crew arrived on scene, as always, an assessment was carried out along with the crew of the stricken vessel to agree the best course of action. This is a procedure that our crew carry out and train for on a regular basis.

“We are glad we were able to get the vessel and her crew to safety.”

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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RTÉ News reports that a man in his 30s has died after he was swept out to sea while picking seaweed on the West Clare coast on Sunday (23 January).

The man’s body was recovered in a multi-agency response on Sunday afternoon less than an hour after the alarm was raised.

It’s understood that the man had been picking seaweed on the shore near Farrihy Bay north of Kilkee when he lost his footing and fell into the water.

Elsewhere, a surfing instructor has urged for greater awareness of water safety after his rescue of a father and son who capsized while kayaking in Portrush in Northern Ireland on Sunday.

Dave Hamill told the Belfast Telegraph that the pair were “humbled” after being caught unawares by a rip current, saying that “is not the first time people have gotten into difficulty from lack of water safety awareness”.

He added: “It’s a scary world and it’s the sort of story that needs more attention for sure.”

Published in News Update
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