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Bangor RNLI's Safety Man Peter Bullick Awarded Long Service Medal

12th January 2021
Peter Bullick with his long service medal Peter Bullick with his long service medal Photo: RNLI Mark Johnston

Peter Bullick is well known in sailing circles in Northern Ireland and has long been a familiar face associated with volunteering for the RNLI. He enjoys cruising to the west coast of Scotland and has ventured as far as St Kilda, Stornaway and the Orkney Islands.

He is a Community Safety Adviser at Bangor Lifeboat Station and now his dedication to the cause of water safety has been recognised with the presentation of a Long Service Award.

By 2020 Peter had spent 21 years volunteering and saving lives at sea. The volunteer lifeboat crews who pull people from the water can't depend on rescue alone. That's where water safety volunteers like Peter come in.

Asked what inspired him to volunteer, Peter said. "I'm a keen sailor. I sailed with my father as a youngster at Bangor and took up powerboat racing in my mid-20s. I'm an RYA) Yachtmaster and was an RYA Advanced Powerboat Instructor with commercial endorsement. I organised most, if not all, RYA shore-based courses at the Royal Ulster Yacht Club for eight years or so. I relied on the RNLI on two occasions when I got into trouble at sea. So, when I saw an advert in the local paper for RNLI volunteers with sea safety experience, I applied and got the position of sea safety adviser".

Peter is the only water safety volunteer at Bangor Lifeboat Station, but about 30 volunteer lifeboat and shore crew support him. He promotes the RNLI's water safety messages at any given opportunity, particularly safety afloat with sailing and motorboating being popular activities locally. He says " I do this through delivering RNLI presentations, holding Lifejacket Clinics, and giving onboard and shore safety advice. I often speak with boat owners casually whilst walking the marina pontoons".
Peter also is a fundraising volunteer in Bangor, and as the Souvenir Secretary, he sells RNLI souvenirs and gifts at local events.

In response to being asked how it makes him feel to know that he has the power to save someone's life, Peter replied " I don't think too much about it. I may not know how many lives I have prevented from being lost. It's the people I have not been talking to who are my priority. I must reach them – they are more at risk". He added " I've been told on many occasions that my advice has helped to prevent people from losing their life. Particularly after I've advised them that the lifejacket they've been using for many years has a fault and so will not inflate".

Peter reveals that for him, the best thing about being a water safety volunteer is wearing and promoting the charity's name and making new friends every day. " The worst is standing in the rain collecting with the bucket holding more water than money!". He is also looking forward to shaking many hands at some point once the pandemic is over. Peter would encourage others to volunteer for the RNLI. " You will enjoy it. It is one of the most rewarding types of volunteering you will ever do".

Marina Manager Kevin Baird is a Bangor RNLI member – "Absolutely fantastic to see Peter recognised in the latest RNLI magazine. Peter has for many years, organised the Bangor Life Jacket clinic. We know that his work has saved lives. Peter is also a Bangor Marina berth holder. Well done Peter from all the team at the Marina".

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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