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Rescued woman visits station to thank Bangor RNLI crew

Lifeboats News Release

Earlier today (25 August), Bangor RNLI was delighted to receive a visit from Geraldine Donnelly, a visit she has been promising to make for weeks – ever since she was rescued from Ballyholme beach.

On 7 June this year, Geraldine’s life changed in an instant.  One second she was enjoying a walk with two dogs along Ballyholme promenade on a beautiful sunny day, the next she had fallen more than two metres onto rocks and shingle after one of the dogs pulled and over-balanced her.

Many will remember the striking photo of  crew member John Bell holding Geraldine’s hand and reassuring her as she was lifted into the ambulance.

Geraldine was delighted to meet three of the crew involved in her rescue – Mickey McKenna (helm), John Bell, and Richard McClinton.  The fourth crew member that day, Ian Browne, sent his regards as he is currently working overseas.

After five weeks in the Ulster Hospital and another four receiving physio, Geraldine is back on her feet, in the knowledge it could be a year before she is fully recovered.

In an emotional meeting, Geraldine said, ‘As soon as I fell, I knew it was serious, and if it wasn’t for the RNLI, I really don’t think I’d be alive today’. 

Geraldine was also full of praise for everyone else that helped her, but singled out ‘her angel’ John Bell, who held her hand throughout the rescue.

She said: ‘Every day since the accident, I’ve wanted to thank you for your kind words and for holding my hand.  It made such a difference, and kept me calm; something the doctors say prevented the injury being even worse.’


RNLI media contacts
For information please contact Mark Johnston Bangor RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Tel: 07976 256655  email: or Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager on 00 353 87 1254 124 email or Nuala McAloon RNLI Press Officer Tel: 00 353 87 6483547 email

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 Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 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.

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