Bronze Medal presented to Lochinver coxswain for saving four lives

Lifeboats News Release

The Coxswain of Lochinver lifeboat has been presented with the RNLI’s Bronze Medal for a brave night time rescue during a storm.

Lochinver coxswain David MacAskill with his Bronze Medal

RNLI/Richard Smith

Lochinver coxswain David MacAskill with his Bronze Medal and RNLI chairman Stuart Popham and volunteer crew

Coxswain David MacAskill (49) received one of the charity’s top accolades for his courage and determination in extremely difficult conditions.

He was presented with the medal in a presentation ceremony in Lochinver on Friday (18 November) from the RNLI’s Chairman, Stuart Popham.

Six RNLI volunteer crew men were also recognised for their part in the rescue of the crew on board the fish carrier, Norholm. Stuart Gudgeon, Robert Kinnaird, James MacAskill, John K Templeton, Joseph Mackay and Lachlan D MacAskill received Letters of Thanks from the Chairman.

Gale force winds were pushing the fish carrier towards the dangerous and rocky shore of Cape Wrath when Coxswain MacAskill and his crew launched their all-weather lifeboat Julian and Margaret Leonard into rough seas and darkness on 7 December 2014.

They braved up to 10 metre seas, thunder, lightning and hail to reach the four people on board the disabled vessel. After battling against the strong winds and waves to attach a tow line, the lifeboat crew managed to tow it clear of danger.

Despite the lifeboat and Norholm reaching more sheltered waters, the drama was not over – the tow line broke twice and the crew continued to battle to save the fish carrier as the weather continued to worsen.

With the RNLI Thurso lifeboat joining them, the tired crew of Lochinver lifeboat passed the tow to their colleagues and returned to their lifeboat station in the morning of 8 December - nearly 12 hours after they first launched.

Mr Popham told the guests at Peet’s Restaurant, ‘When you think about the thousands of launches we carry out every year, it’s actually very rare these days for a call out to end with a medal.

‘During recent times we have gone for whole years without any gallantry awards. It’s only the really outstanding examples of skill and courage that get recognised in this way.

‘But of course, that’s not why people volunteer for the lifeboat. When they launch, a medal or a vellum award is the last thing on their minds.

‘There’s no doubt that four people are only alive today because of what you did that night and that is why this is one of those rescues that deserves special recognition for true RNLI gallantry.’

After the rescue the Norholm made a substantial donation to the RNLI and praised the Lochinver lifeboat crew for saving their lives.

Mr Popham added, ‘In their letter they said, ‘words cannot describe the gratitude we feel towards your lifeboat crew whose fast actions and bravery saved the lives of the crew of the Norholm.’

Coxswain MacAskill has been on the Lochinver crew for 26 years during which time he has received several letters of commendation from the charity.

He thanked Mr Popham for coming to Lochinver to make the presentation and said he was delighted to accept the medal which was also recognition for the volunteer crew involved in the rescue.

This is the first time in Lochinver’s nearly 50-year history that the station has received such an award for saving lives at sea. It is the seventh Bronze Medal to be awarded in Scotland in the last 16 years.

Picture Captions: Coxswain David MacAskill on the Lochinver lifeboat. Credit: RNLI/Nigel Millard.

Coxswain David MacAskill with RNLI Chairman Stuart Popham and crew involved in the rescue. Credit: RNLI/Richard Smith

Media contacts:For more information please contact contact Richard Smith, Public Relations Manager for Scotland on 01738 443255 or 07786 668903 or by email at richard_smith@rnli.org.uk. Alternatively, contact RNLI Public Relations on 01202 336789.

Lochinver coxswain David MacAskill

RNLI/Nigel Millard

Lochinver coxswain David MacAskill

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 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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