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The Name of the Late Don Clarke of Strangford Lough Yacht Club Will be on the New Clifden Lifeboat

27th December 2020
Don Clarke Don Clarke Photo: courtesy Strangfrod Lough Yacht Club

It's a long way from Whiterock on Strangford Lough to Clifden in County Galway where the new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat will be stationed in 2022. It will be the second such vessel to be part of the charity's 'Launch a Memory' fundraising campaign and the first to be based in Ireland.

There will be space for 10,000 names on the hull and one which will be there is that of the late Don Clarke, long time boatman at Strangford Lough Yacht Club where he was also in charge of the clubhouse and grounds and involved in club safety boat services. He was an Auxiliary Coastguard for Whiterock and Portaferry area. His niece Gillian Clarke, instead of sending cards at Christmas, has donated to the RNLI in memory of her Uncle Don; "As an RNLI volunteer and an Auxiliary Coastguard Don helped save many lives over the years" Gillian said, "In his memory, I wish all my family and friends, near and far, a very Peaceful Christmas and a better New Year for us all in 2021".

Originally from Crosshaven, in Cork Harbour, Don joined the Club in 1969 and worked there until he retired. He passed away in August last.

Through the 'Launch a Memory' campaign, members of the public and supporters of the charity will be able to commemorate a loved one by donating online and submitting that person's name. The name of each person being remembered will be featured within the lifeboat's letters (RNLI) and numbers, or decal, displayed on the vessel's hull in lettering 3-4mm in height. The first Launch a Memory lifeboat is due to go on service in Invergordon, Scotland.

The honour of the first name on the new lifeboat will go to a young lifeboat volunteer, Lee Early (26), from Donegal, who tragically lost his life last year when he was involved in an accident on Arranmore Island.

Daniel Curran, RNLI Engagement Lead, said: "We are so pleased to be able to bring Launch A Memory' to Ireland, with a lifeboat that will save lives off our coast for generations. Everyone who supports the campaign will receive email updates about the lifeboat, keeping them informed of all major developments on its journey to going on service and saving lives at sea in Clifden."

There are three ways people can get the name of a loved one on the Launch a Memory lifeboat. Donations can be made online at rnli.org/launchamemory by phone on 01-895 1800 (Monday to Friday 8 am to 6 pm) or alternatively by post to RNLI, Airside, Swords, County Dublin K67 WA24. There is a suggested donation of €30 with space to commemorate up to 10,000 names on the lifeboat.

Betty Armstrong

About The Author

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down.

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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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