Displaying items by tag: Portrush
#RNLI - Portrush RNLI volunteer Karl O’Neill is becoming one of the RNLI's all-rounders, for as well as being helm for the Portrush inshore lifeboat and senior RNLI lifeguard, he is now a part of the lifesaving charity's Flood Rescue Team (FRT).
The FRT is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to deploy to flooding events in the UK, Ireland and abroad for search and rescue (SAR) operations.
The team comprises RNLI members from across the network who have been specially trained for the risks involved when working in or around fast moving flood water. The team are all either serving volunteer lifeboat crew or operational RNLI staff who volunteer to be part of the team.
As part of his training, O'Neill had to go to Loch Etive, near Oban in Scotland, for a period of four days' intensive training. The training exercises are designed to ensure that the team are fully prepared for dangerous and unpredictable flood waters, which differ greatly from the sea environment.
These exercises allow the volunteers to practise their skills in fast-flowing water, simulating the conditions they could face in a real life situation.
"It was a great experience to be trained for this type of emergency and has equipped me to respond in an emergency when the call comes," said O'Neill on his return to station.
"The training I had already received from the RNLI had given me a good foundation already, but the flood water training was very different to being in the open sea."
Lifeboat operations manager Robin Cardwell added that "the team at Portrush are very proud of Karl in terms of this training. He will be a great asset to any of the FR Teams when called to respond."
Karl O'Neill's family has a long association with Portrush Lifeboat Station, as his grandfather was a mechanic and cox, his uncle Anthony Chambers is the present mechanic and RNLI Bronze Medal awardee, and his cousin Jason Chambers is also on crew.
In other Portrush news, O'Neill and his inshore lifeboat crew got their first service of 2014 last Sunday (16 February) just after their usual training session, when they were called to the assistance of two surfers who got into difficulties off Portstewart Strand.
The weather was unusually mild for a Sunday in February and perfect conditions for surfing. However, the surfers were caught in strong currents and were swept out to sea.
The Inshore lifeboat quickly located the first surfer and got him on board. They then found the other surfer and, after getting him on board, transported both surfers back to the beach.
"It was a beautiful day for surfing on the North Coast but it goes to show that everyone needs to be mindful about sea safety," said Cardwell.
#Surfing - A Portrush surf school will continue its links with a programme encouraging social inclusion for people with autism thanks to a funding award from Sport Northern Ireland.
As the Coleraine Times reports, the £3,750 (€4,536) award goes to Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland, whose partnership with Autism Initiatives NI led the latter to establish ties with the Alive Surf School, recently voted 'Best Family Activity Provider' in the OutdoorNI Awards.
That connection resulted in the North's first surfing summer club specifically for people on the autism spectrum, coming after the similar Surf2heal programme in the Republic that uses surfing as powerful therapy for autistic children.
And the new NI programme is set to continue this summer thanks to the latest funding, which has allowed for the purchase of two custom-built tandem surfboards.
The Coleraine Times has more on the story HERE.
The money was raised during a recent art auction in Wicklow, and the local artists' group wanted some of the proceeds to go to a local charity.
Mary De Courcy, chairperson of the fundraising branch, accepted the generous donation on behalf of the station.
Speaking after the presentation, Wicklow RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Tommy Dover said the station was delighted to receive the gift "especially on SOS Day, one of the RNLI’s main fundraising days."
SOS Day is the annual RNLI crew fundraising day and stations all over the country host innovative and novel ways of fundraising incorporating the SOS initials.
In Northern Irelabd, supporters of Portrush Lifeboat Station jumped into the sea at Portrush Harbour and swam round the station's all-weather lifeboat, the William Gordon Burr.
The weather was bitterly cold but didn’t deter the crowd that turned up to do their bit.
- RNLI coxswain Des Austin explained: "This is a fun event that involves our crew, fundraisers, and a great local crowd who turn out irrespective of the weather to support the volunteer lifeboat crew.
"The crew themselves take part and their colleagues and on standby to give them a friendly push and also to haul them in at the end of the swim."
The man with the megaphone for the event was Robin Cardwell, Portrush RNLI lifeboat operations manager. All swimmers were counted out and counted back in again.
The crew thanked Coleraine Borough Council for their use of Waterworld for everyone to get a hot shower after their swim, as well as the RNLI lifeguards and the local coastguard team, who provided safety cover for the event.
After the event everyone was treated to homemade soup and sandwiches in Portrush Yacht Club, and a special SOS cake made by crew member Claudia McAlpin.
The club, which collects donations throughout the year or the lifesaving charity, made the presentation to Portrush lifeboat operations manager Robin Cardwell at the Co Antrim lifeboat house.
Club chair Vincent McLaughlin said: "Our members value the work of the volunteer crew members and when you are out on the sea, you never know when you are going to need the RNLI.
"It’s always a nice sight to see the lifeboat moored in the harbour ready to go when called. It’s a pleasure to hand this cheque over to the Portrush crew in appreciation of the work they do."
Cardwell added: "The crew really appreciate the donations from our local anglers and are delighted that year on year they continue to show us tremendous support."
#Missing - The search continues on the North Antrim coast for a missing man thought to have been swept out to sea while angling at the weekend.
The man has been named as 38-year-old Polish national Jaroslaw Andrykiewicz, who had been living in Northern Ireland for six years and worked at a vegetable produce firm in Co Armagh.
BBC News reports that the family of the missing man have arrived in Northern Ireland as search and rescue services continue to comb the coast around Ramore Head in Portrush, where he was last seen.
The search for Andrykiewicz had been slowed earlier this week by the stormy conditions in the region.
The PSNI has also urged members of the public wishing to help with the search for the 38-year-old - who is believed to have been swept into the sea while fishing on rocks at Ramore Head yesterday - to step back and leave the search to the professionals.
“Deteriorating weather and sea conditions mean that the search environment is extremely challenging and police do not want to see anyone put at risk," said a spokesperson.
#coastguard – At 4.05pm yesterday Belfast Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre received a 999 emergency call from a member of the public who had witnessed a shore based fisherman entering the water at Ramore Head, Portrush.
Belfast Coastguard immediately requested helicopter assistance. The Irish Coastguard Rescue helicopter is searching the area, and both the Portrush RNLI all-weather and inshore lifeboats from are on scene searching for the man. Coastguard Rescue Teams from Ballycastle and Colraine are on scene, searching the surrounding area. There are also three local vessels assisting with the search.
Belfast Coastguard Watch Manager, Graeme Watters said
This man was fishing in a party of three. We do not know how he came to be lost in the water, but we have many assets supporting in the search.
#SurfKayaking - This weekend 14-15 September sees Portrush in Co Antrim host the Northern Ireland & British Open championships in waveski and surf kayak, and the Coleraine Times has the lowdown on what to expect.
It's fitting that the contest, last held in Portrush in 2010, is returning to a region that's produced more than its fair share of world-class surf kayaking talent - the latest being 18-year-old Jake King from Derry who claimed the world title this past July.
#coastguard – A search is currently underway for the owner of two fishing rods found near rocks at the Blue Pool, Portrush.
A member of the public called Belfast Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre at just after 11am because they had spotted the two abandoned fishing rods. Because the coastguard cannot be sure that the owner hadn't fallen in to the water they sent the Portrush Coastguard Rescue Team, the RNLI Lifeboat from Portrush and the Irish Coastguard helicopter based at Sligo to the scene. Despite an extensive search the owner of the fishing rods has not been found.
Belfast Coastguard Watch Manager Ian Murdock said:
"Until we find out that the owner of the fishing rods is safe and well we have to assume the worst. If you were fishing at the Blue Pool last night or early this morning please call the coastguard, particularly if you left some equipment behind.
"Rocks can be dangerous and slippery so please consider whether there is anywhere safer to fish. Because there is little to hold on to even a small wave can wash you off in to the sea and so the coastguard recommends that when fishing from rocks you wear a suitable floatation device, you check weather and tidal conditions and tell someone on shore where you are going and what time you plan to be back. If you don't return on time ask them to call 999 and ask for the coastguard.
The station currently has 17 lifeboat and two shore crew to cover its inshore service on Strangford Lough but is now calling on new volunteers to come forward and find out how they can get involved in helping the charity continue to save lives at sea.
To that end, the station will be hosting two open days early next month for all interested candidates to learn more.
"We are looking for anyone aged 17 years and over who is willing to offer some of their free time to join what I believe to be, one of the most exhilarating and rewarding voluntary services that is out there," said lifeboat operations manager Brian Bailie.
"Every volunteer receives first class training from the RNLI and learns new skills which can benefit them in many walks of life. Lifeboat crew members need to have a reasonable level of fitness, have good eyesight and not be colour-blind."
He added: "Anyone who would like to volunteer but feels they would not meet the requirements for lifeboat crew should in no way be put off, as shore crew also play an essential role in the launch and recovery of the lifeboat when it goes on service."
For anyone who feels they have the time and commitment to volunteer for the charity which is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, is asked to email Brian at [email protected].
Alternatively, prospective volunteers can come along to the station’s open days from 7-9pm next Tuesday 7 May or from 2-4pm next Saturday 11 May.
Elsewhere in Northern Ireland, primary school children will have the opportunity to hit the surf with RNLI lifeguards over the next month.
The charity’s ‘Hit the Surf’ programme runs from 7 May to 7 June on the East Strand Beach in Portrush.
Aimed at primary five to seven pupils aged eight to 11, the programme - which is expanding to accommodate more schools this year - gives children a unique opportunity to gain practical lessons in lifesaving and beach safety. All equipment is provided free of charge.
Each session lasts two-and-a half-hours and includes a theory lesson on staying safe at the beach, the role of beach lifeguards and the RNLI, and detailed information on flags and rip currents.
There are practical lessons in lifesaving and surf based skills, while lifeguards aim to build pupils confidence in the sea. Children also learn about the local hazards and the beach environment.
Sessions are still available for schools who want to book pupils in. For more information contact Jessica on 0777 441 4208 or email [email protected]
Last year RNLI lifeguards located on beaches in Co Down and along the Causeway Coast responded to 158 incidents and assisted 176 people who found themselves in difficulty.