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Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Stephen Wynne Retires After 31 Years

10th September 2021
Stephen Wynne is retiring as Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager
Stephen Wynne is retiring as Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager

Fifty-one years to the day after he was rescued from a capsized dinghy and inspired to join a lifeboat crew, Stephen Wynne is retiring as Dun Laoghaire Harbour RNLI’s Lifeboat Operations Manager, a position he has held for over three decades. Stephen will however, continue to volunteer for the lifeboat station as Deputy Launching Authority.

Recalling his own rescue by the RNLI on the 10 September 1970, Stephen said it was fitting that he chose the anniversary that inspired him to get involved with the charity as the day he would hand over the reins:

‘I was rescued from a capsized dinghy outside Dun Laoghaire by the then Coxswain, the late Eric Offer and his crew on the Waveney class lifeboat which was the first class of lifeboats operated by the RNLI capable of operating at speeds in excess of 10 knots. While I was too young to join at the time, I made a decision then when I came out of hospital that when I met the age eligibility, I was going to become a volunteer crew member.’

True to his word, Stephen joined the RNLI lifeboat community in 1975 and became a crew member in 1977. He later became a Deputy Launching Authority in 1987 and became Honorary Secretary, a position known now as Lifeboat Operations Manager, in 1990.

For the last 31 years in this role, Stephen has been responsible for managing all operational activities, authorising the launch of both the all-weather and inshore lifeboats and the day-to-day management of the station.

It is a position he has relished and one which he will miss: ‘Volunteers have always been at the heart of the RNLI and essential in saving lives at sea. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve first as a crew member, then as Deputy Launching Authority and later Lifeboat Operations Manager. My contribution over the years however, has been part of a wider team effort and I want to thank the dedicated team around me in Dun Laoghaire for all that they do - the lifeboat crew, shore crew, station officers, management and fundraisers. I also want to thank the many members of the public who always give their support so generously and donate what they can to power Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s lifesaving work.’

Peter Harty, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager, paid tribute to Stephen: ‘Stephen is the epitome of an RNLI volunteer. Utterly dedicated to saving lives at sea, he has lived the RNLI’s core values of selflessness, dependability, trustworthiness and courage in all that he does. He joined the lifeboat community at Dun Laoghaire in 1975, after he was rescued at sea. During this time, he has provided outstanding leadership and support to operational lifesavers. We are delighted that Stephen is not lost to us as he will be remaining with Dun Laoghaire RNLI as a Deputy Launching Authority.’

Ed Totterdell, also a Deputy Launching Authority, will take up the role as the new Lifeboat Operations Manager.

Published in RNLI Lifeboats
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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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