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Donaghadee RNLI Volunteers Receive Long Service Recognition

20th April 2021
Philip McNamara, Coxswain. John Petrie, Crew Member of over 30 years. Michael Field, Crew Member of over 30 years. Mark Nelson, Crew Member of over 20 years
Philip McNamara, Coxswain. John Petrie, Crew Member of over 30 years. Michael Field, Crew Member of over 30 years. Mark Nelson, Crew Member of over 20 years

Three Donaghadee RNLI Lifeboat volunteer crew members in Northern Ireland have had their long term service to the institution recognised by RNLI headquarters in Poole in the form of long service medals.

The three crew members have together accrued over 80 years in service to the RNLI and in turn to the community in Donaghadee and its lifesaving heritage.

Crew member Michael Field has been awarded his 30-year long service medal and has been involved in many call-outs over the years, all whilst working and raising a family with his wife Dawn. Michael commented ‘Even after so many years, I still very much enjoy the training exercises and the continual learning. Of course, the comradeship with the other crew over the years has been a big part of the satisfaction I get from being a volunteer. After a particularly difficult shout, of which I have seen many, we are all there to support each other and get ourselves prepared for whatever the next shout may bring’. 

Mark Nelson has been awarded his 20-year long service medal as a volunteer crew member, Mark has juggled his career as a chef as well as being a busy family man for many of these years. When asked what he has noticed most about the RNLI in his time he said ‘ The abilities of the boat, technological advances and the equipment we work with has been impressive and continues to change and challenge us all to maintain our training and skills. No two training exercises or call outs are the same, always interesting and keeps us on our toes!’.

Mark Nelson, Crew Member, with long service medalMark Nelson, Crew Member, with his long service medal

Crew member John Petrie has also been awarded his 30-year long service medal and has seen many changes in his time also. John joined at the age of 23 and has volunteered on two of the RNLI lifeboats City of Belfast and the current Saxon, he has also volunteered under three coxswains, Graham McConnell, David Martin and current coxswain Philip McNamara. Reflecting on his time with the lifeboat John commented on his most memorable call out ‘ On the 20th of April 1993, we were called out to the fishing boat Berachah, they had a man overboard 20 miles south of Donaghadee. We searched for 5 hours in atrocious conditions, 10 metre swells and sometimes more. Definitely, a shout that stands out for me‘.

John Petrie, Crew Member, with long service medalJohn Petrie, Crew Member, with his long service medal

Philip McNamara who has been coxswain for 22 years, said of his crew members ‘The dedication shown by all the crew members at Donagahdee station is remarkable, but to be able to be a volunteer and turn up time and again for training and exercises over such a long period of time is a true measure of their character. They drop everything and leave their families and jobs to go to sea to help someone. I am delighted that Michael, John and Mark have received their long service medals, they are well deserved. I am very proud of the team we have at our station and honoured to work with them. I am sure we will have many more long-serving volunteers in the future. A big well done and thank you to Michael, John and Mark and of course all the crew members at the station.’

Afloat.ie Team

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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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