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Seven RNLI Gallantry Medals awarded to lifesavers

About the author

Image of Isla Reynolds

Isla Reynolds
Newsdesk and PR Manager at Poole.

Start quote‘All these rescues took place in extremely challenging conditions, and are a testament to the courage, commitment and skill of our volunteer crew and flood rescue team members.’End quote

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Lifeboats News Release

  • Date:
  • Author: Isla Reynolds

The courage of seven RNLI volunteers will be recognised at a ceremony in London today (Thursday 23 May).

Crew members from Port Isaac and Anstruther lifeboat stations and members of the RNLI Flood Rescue Team will be awarded Medals for Gallantry – the RNLI’s highest accolades.

Launching their inshore lifeboat into extremely challenging conditions, three Port Isaac lifeboat crew members faced rough and dangerous seas as they tried to rescue two people swept into the sea from the cliffs off the North Cornwall coast in April 2012. Helmsman Damien Bolton, 32, will be given a Silver Medal for Gallantry and crew members Nicola-Jane Bradbury, 40, and Matthew Main, 30, will each be given Bronze Medals for Gallantry for their part in the rescue. They managed to pull one of the men to safety. The other was recovered to the lifeboat, but, tragically, did not survive.

The RNLI’s flood rescue team negotiated fast moving flood waters, debris and darkness to rescue a woman who had been swept from her car near Umberleigh, Devon on 23 December 2012. Vanessa Glover was found clinging to a tree surrounded by flood waters and three members of the RNLI boat team that reached her will be recognised for their part in the rescue. Boat Team Leader Paul Eastment, 46, Helmsman Chris Missen, 26, and Crew Member Martin Blaker-Rowe, 34, will be awarded Bronze Medals for Gallantry. It is the first time that RNLI volunteers have been awarded medals for a flood rescue.

Anstruther inshore lifeboat Helmsman Barry Gourlay, 31, is to be awarded the RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry for his part in the rescue of two people from a motor vessel that had been driven onto rocks amidst breaking waves and in total darkness 10 miles south east of St Andrews, Fife on 1 August 2012. Despite the challenging conditions, Helmsman Gourlay and his two lifeboat crew members managed to pluck the two-man crew from their stricken vessel minutes before it was washed further onto the shore and out of reach of the lifeboat.

Michael Vlasto, RNLI Operations Director, said: ‘All these rescues took place in extremely challenging conditions, and are a testament to the courage, commitment and skill of our volunteer crew and flood rescue team members.’

Michael Vlasto is also being awarded an Honorary RNLI Silver Medal for his service to the RNLI ahead of his retirement from the charity in July. In his 40 years at the RNLI – the last 16 as Operations Director – Michael has seen the charity grow from a lifeboat organisation to one which now includes lifeguards, hovercraft pilots and flood rescue teams, as well as preventative and education work.


Notes to Editors

• The medals will be awarded at a ceremony at the Barbican, London, on Thursday 23 May. The ceremony will be filmed and a copy will be available from 5pm (please contact the RNLI press office on 01202 336789 for a copy).

• Summary of Gallantry Awards:

o RNLI Silver Medal for Gallantry – Senior Helmsman Damien Bolton, Port Isaac lifeboat station

o RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry – Crew Member Nicola-Jane Bradbury, Port Isaac lifeboat station

o RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry – Crew Member Matthew Main, Port Isaac lifeboat station

o RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry – Boat Team Leader Paul Eastment, Porthcawl lifeboat station volunteer and RNLI staff Divisional Assessor/Trainer.

o RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry – Helmsman Chris Missen, Porthcawl lifeboat station volunteer.

o RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry – Crew Member Martin Blaker-Rowe, Poole-based RNLI Trainer

o RNLI Bronze Medal for Gallantry – Helmsman Barry Gourlay, Anstruther lifeboat station

• For more information on each rescue, please follow the links below:

o Bravery of Port Isaac lifeboat crew recognised with RNLI award: press release

o First RNLI Gallantry awards to be awarded to Flood Rescue Team: press release – video of rescue available

o Daring rescue by Anstruther lifeboat crew celebrated with RNLI award: press release

• Films about each rescue, including interviews with the crew involved and those rescued, are available for download from 2.30pm on Thursday 23 May at the below links. These are free to use, please just credit the RNLI.

o Port Isaac lifeboat crew rescue anglers from rough waters: http://rnli.org/Pages/Video-Details.aspx?VideoItemID=jRlwmW6O

o RNLI Flood Rescue Team rescue woman from fast-flowing waters: http://rnli.org/Pages/Video-Details.aspx?VideoItemID=a53ZxZOB

o Anstruther lifeboat crew rescue two from motor vessel on rocks: http://rnli.org/Pages/Video-Details.aspx?VideoItemID=nVRLO7nR

Media contacts

For more information please contact Isla Reynolds, Public Relations Officer, on 01202 663127 or 07899 076224 or by email at isla_reynolds@rnli.org.uk. Or contact Lauren Hockey, Public Relations Officer on 01202 336194 or by email at lauren_hockey@rnli.org.uk

Photos and video

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Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland