Bethany lost her left arm in a shark attack off the North Shore of Kauai in Hawaii in 2003. The incident and her recovery are the subject of the new Disney film 'Soul Surfer'. Following the attack, Bethany overcame all the odds to become a champion surfer again. The film features an all star cast including Anna Sophia Robb, Helen Hunt and Dennis Quaid.
Bethany called in to say hello to the lifeboat crew and was happy to pose for a photograph with the volunteers. She is also no stranger to the area, having traced her family roots back to the Donegal town through the Hamilton's of Hamilton Hall. The lifeboat crew made sure she was made very welcome and presented her with her very own RNLI "SOS" t-shirt and pen.
Surfer Bethany Hamilton with RNLI Bundoran. Photo: Linda McNulty
Speaking during the visit Bethany said, "With the incredible amount of time that I've spent in the ocean I've learnt how important emergency services are. The work that the RNLI Lifeboat guys do here in Bundoran is amazing and to do it on a voluntary basis really blows my mind - what a blessing for the community. The commitment these guys show, is second to none."
Commenting on the visit Colm Hamrogue, Bundoran RNLI lifeboat press officer added, "We were thrilled to welcome Bethany to the lifeboat station and show her the lifeboat. It was an honour to meet the person who has overcome such adversity to go on and become a champion in her sport. She is a true inspiration to the RNLI volunteers who go out and save lives at sea."
The European Surfing Championships are being held in Bundoran for the third time in the competition's history and run from September 23rd to the 2nd of October. As always the Bundoran RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew will be available if needed and wish all the competitors the very best of luck.