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Lough Swilly RNLI groom’s wedding speech interrupted by lifeboat launch

Lifeboats News Release

Buncrana man Francy Burns wed his sweetheart Carndonagh woman Helen McFarland last weekend (Saturday 8 October) in a wedding attended by their family, friends and the volunteers with Lough Swilly RNLI.

However it wasn’t all plain sailing as after the vows were exchanged and Francy took the microphone to make his wedding speech the lifeboat pagers went off and the volunteer lifeboat crew jumped to their feet and raced out of the room and to the callout.

The incident was a reminder to Helen of what she can expect married to a lifeboat volunteer. As Francy was preparing to follow his lifeboat colleagues and head out the door to the callout, the Coxswain assured him they had enough crew and he could stay where he was and enjoy the day.  The callout was to a vessel with one person on board which had lost engine power and had been drifting for three hours.  Lough Swilly RNLI launched their Shannon class lifeboat and brought it to safety, with the lifeboat crew returning to the wedding some hours later.

As the wedding reception was held in the Gateway hotel Francy had the perfect view out the window down on the berth from where the lifeboat is launched. 

Commenting on the wedding day Lough Swilly RNLI volunteer and new husband Francy Burns said, ‘It was certainly a day of mixed emotions.  I married the most beautiful and amazing woman but when I saw the crew stand up to head out for the lifeboat shout during my speech my first thoughts were to follow them.  You never know what you are launching to but thankfully it was fairly straightforward. Helen understands how I feel about the lifeboat and she is fully supportive.  You never know, I might even persuade her to sign up too.’

Lough Swilly RNLI lifeboat volunteer crewmember and press officer Joe Joyce added, ‘The launch sort of added to the whole day.  You couldn’t have planned it better.  Everyone with Lough Swilly RNLI wish Francy and Helen every happiness on their marriage and we will see Francy down at the station for our next shout.’


RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Lough Swilly RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer Joe Joyce Tel: 086 226 0967 Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager Tel: 087 1254 124 / 01 8900 460 email or Nuala McAloon RNLI Press Officer Tel: 087 6483547 email:

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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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