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Naming Ceremony of Lough Swilly RNLI Shannon Class lifeboat Derek Bullivant

Lifeboats News Release

Arklow man and former Lifeboat Operations Manager Jimmy Tyrrell will have the honour of naming the first class of RNLI lifeboat to be named after an Irish river on Saturday 25 June at 11.30am in Buncrana, county Donegal.

Event:            Naming Ceremony of Lough Swilly RNLI Shannon Class lifeboat Derek Bullivant

Date & time:  Saturday 25 June 2016 at 11.30am      

Venue:            Lough Swilly RNLI lifeboat station, Pier Car Park,  Swilly Road, Buncrana, County  Donegal    

All are welcome to attend

Lough Swilly RNLI will hold a special Naming Ceremony and Service of Dedication in Buncrana to officially name the first ‘Shannon’ class lifeboat in Ireland Derek Bullivant.

The Donegal lifeboat station was the first in Ireland to receive the new €2.4 million lifeboat, which is the most modern and technically advanced lifeboat in the RNLI fleet. Shortly after its arrival on station the lifeboat brought three local fishermen to safety after they had been reported missing when their vessel had lost power and drifted out to sea.

The lifeboat, which is named Derek Bullivant (ON 1315) was funded by legacies from Mr Derek Bullivant and Mrs Valerie Walker. Mr. Bullivant was born in Birmingham in 1922 and was a trained chemist before working as an industrial analyst for a company in the metal industry. He went on to start his own company which became one of the biggest aluminium recycling companies in the UK.  He always wanted his success to benefit lifesaving and humanitarian charities which led him to provide a generous legacy which helped to fund the Lough Swilly lifeboat.

The second legacy was bequeathed from Mrs. Valerie Walker from Portsmouth. Mrs. Walker was a supporter of the RNLI and her legacy has been used to part fund the lifeboat.  Her generosity will be remembered and acknowledged by a plaque which will be placed in the boathouse at Lough Swilly lifeboat station.

The Shannon is first class of lifeboat to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the fleet. Waterjets allow the vessel to operate in shallow waters and be intentionally beached. The lifeboat has a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 250 nautical miles, which makes it ideal for offshore searches and rescues in calm and rough seas.

The new lifeboat was developed to operate in the worst of sea conditions and is self-righting, automatically turning the right side up in the event of a capsize.  Its unique hull is designed to minimise slamming of the boat in heavy seas and the shock-absorbing seats further protect the crew from impact when powering through the waves.

Commenting on the forthcoming occasion Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John McCarter said, ‘Many people will know that we welcomed the lifeboat to Buncrana a little over a year ago but in grand RNLI tradition we officially name and dedicate the lifeboat after that and in doing so remember our generous benefactors who through their legacies have provided this incredible gift to our community.’

‘We are delighted that Jimmy Tyrrell will be officially naming our lifeboat.  Our colleagues in the lifeboat community will know that Jimmy lobbied the RNLI for years to have a class of lifeboat named in recognition of the role Ireland and Irish lifeboat volunteers have played in the work of the charity for 192 years.  All other lifeboat classes are named after UK Rivers so the Shannon is truly an Irish lifeboat.’

The Shannon lifeboat also has another strong Irish connection. Peter Eyre, an RNLI Engineer from Derry who works at the charity’s headquarters in Poole, was instrumental in the development of the new lifeboat, designing the hull form at the age of 24. He studied at Foyle College before studying Ship Science at the University of Southampton and undertaking a work placement with the RNLI. Peter had a brush with the charity in 1998 when Lough Swilly Lifeboat came to his aid when at 14 years old his family’s 30ft cruiser racer yacht was demasted in rough seas and force 7 winds. The yacht lost its mast and was escorted back to shore by Lough Swilly RNLI.

The first all-weather lifeboat put on service in Lough Swilly was The Good Shepard in 2000.


RNLI Note to Editors
Please be advised that following the ceremony images will be available from Photographer Clive Wasson Tel: 00 353 862221024

RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Joe Joyce Lough Swilly RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Tel: 00 353 86 226 0967 Niamh Stephenson RNLI Media Relations Manager on 01 8900 460 or 00 252 87 1254 124 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