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Portrush Athlete to Put In Mayday Miles for Local Lifeboat

27th April 2021
Local athlete David McGaffin (left) with Portrush RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager Beni McAllister
Local athlete David McGaffin (left) with Portrush RNLI’s lifeboat operations manager Beni McAllister Credit: RNLI/Judy Nelson

Portrush athlete David McGaffin is taking the RNLI Mayday Mile challenge to a whole new level to raise funds for his local lifeboat station.

The McGaffin family has a long association with Portrush RNLI on Northern Ireland’s North Coast. David’s late father Tom was an integral part of the fabric and was one of the crew on the famous shout in 1989 when the lifeboat was launched to reports of two Spanish trawlers in difficulty.

David, a Springwell Running Club member and long-time supporter of Portrush RNLI, shared his story and why he is setting himself this gruelling challenge.

“The first marathon I took part in was Belfast on 6 May 1985 and was in aid of the RNLI. There was a lot of blistering, some bleeding and an amount of distress so the fact that the race is always held on May Day, which is also an international distress signal, is not lost on me.

”Growing up in Portrush, especially if you fish and mess about in boats, you are very aware of the work that the RNLI does and the amount of money that it takes to keep the service operating.

“My father Tom, who was a RNLI member for many years, initially as a shoreline member, then lifeboat crew and latterly as the deputy launch authority, spent many years fundraising for the RNLI and was one of the founder members of the Portrush Raft Race.

”The RNLI, especially the boat crews, can be a self-deprecating bunch and do not take praise well. To them it’s just a job they do, and once a mission is over, they get ready for the next one.

‘To complete this challenge I will have to run more miles in a month than I have ever done before and week four will be the most miles I will have ever run in a week’

“I have been fortunate to know many crew members, including some who served on the Portrush lifeboat in the 1960s. I have been on boats running for the cover of the harbour in bad weather as the lifeboat launches to someone in distress, and have stood safely on the harbour wall watching the lifeboat head out into the worst weather that the North Atlantic can deliver.

”What I do know about the RNLI is that they are ordinary people doing extraordinary things and deserving of all the medals, commendations and plaudits they receive.“

David added: ”In the absence of the Raft Race I will be taking part in the RNLI May Day Mile challenge, but taking it just a bit further.

“The challenge is simple: set an exercise goal, raise some sponsorship and then complete it. Those of you that know me will know that it’s not going to be that straightforward, there’s no point doing easy if you’re asking for money. I know that you expect some degree of pain, suffering and sacrifice to part you from your hard earned cash, and to that end I will be running the date each day. That’s one mile on the first, two on the second, three on the third and so on.

”To save you from doing the maths the first week is handy enough, week two is alright, it’s tougher going in week three, week four is insane and the last three days just mad. To complete this challenge I will have to run more miles in a month than I have ever done before and week four will be the most miles I will have ever run in a week.“

Portush RNLI press officer Judy Nelson praised David’s dedication to the lifeboat station, especially at a time when the station’s fundraising activities have been severely curtailed by the pandemic while crews have been busier than ever.

”To have someone like David who is not only running to raise funds but also raising awareness of the work our volunteers do is fantastic — we wish him all the best."

If you want to donate to David and the station you can do so via the JustGiving link HERE.

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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