A service of thanksgiving marked the start of a year of events to celebrate Portrush Lifeboat Station's 150 years of saving lives at sea. The volunteer lifeboat crewmembers, fundraisers and supporters held a service in Portrush with the Inshore Boat 'The Ken and Mary' making her last appearance as a Portrush Lifeboat.
The event was held exactly 150 years after Laura, the Countess of Antrim helped establish the Lifeboat Station on the North Coast.
The service started with James Heaney, Chairman of Portrush Lifeboat Station giving a brief history of the station. Michael Hassan and Shay Reynolds sang a song that Michael had composed for the station called 'You're never on your own' and Ballywillan Band played the crews favourite hymns. By coincidence the band unveiled their new crest which includes a rope ring, a nod to their close relationship with the lifeboat station.
Father Sheehan, Reverend Simpson, Pastor Todd and Rev Kirkpatrick all did readings and prayers reflecting the dedication of the volunteer crews to saving lives at sea. Karl O'Neill one of the youngest crew members read the 'Lifeboat Prayer'
After the service John D Coyle MEconSc Chairman RNLI Ireland Council handed over a vellum to Robin Cardwell, Lifeboat Operations Manager. Mr Coyle praised the work of the crews and teams attached to the station and congratulated everyone on reaching this milestone. He reflected on the advances in technology which has made the lifeboats ever more sophisticated, but how the RNLI still depend on volunteers to crew them.
Robin accepted the vellum and thanked everyone for attending especially crew families who wait at home when the crews are out at sea. He thanked the crews for their dedication and commitment to training both on station and at Poole. He said that the vellum would be hung with pride at the station. Coxswain Willie McAuley presented Mr Coyle with a signed book on the history of the station and Shelley Pinkerton, Chairman of the Fundraising Team, proposed the vote of thanks to Mr Coyle, and reminded everyone why fundraising was so important to the RNLI.
After the formal proceedings ended Limavady Big Band sound played a medley of swing sounds which entertained everyone while friends past and present reminisced.
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