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Portaferry RNLI celebrates 40 years of lifesaving

Lifeboats News Release

Portaferry RNLI celebrated the station's 40th anniversary this weekend with a party and presentation evening for crew members and their families.

During the course of the evening the crew paid thanks to those past and present crew members for their dedication and hard work over the past 40 years.

Portaferry Lifeboat Station owes its origins to a RNLI lifeboat station that was established in 1884 in the village of Cloughey, Co. Down. The first lifeboat called 'The Faith' was commissioned a short while after in 1885.

With the introduction of fast inshore lifeboats that were capable of making way against strong tidal currents, (such as currents up to 8 knots experienced in the Strangford Narrows) it was decided, in 1979, to place a single-engine 'C' class lifeboat in Portaferry for evaluation. The lifeboat quickly proved to be a success and a twin engine 'D' class was commissioned and the Station was officially established on 1st May 1980. The station was upgraded to 24 hour all year operation in 1982.

The past 40 years have seen huge changes in the technology and design of the boats and the personal safety equipment worn by the crew. Portaferry now operates a 'B' class Atlantic 85 lifeboat known as 'Blue Peter V'. Portaferry is one of seven 'Blue Peter' RNLI Lifeboat Stations, and the only one in Ireland, whose lifeboats have been sponsored by the world's longest running television programme for children, the BBC's "Blue Peter" which first broadcasted sixty years ago. Our Atlantic 85 has twin engines, radar, VHF direction-finding equipment and a righting mechanism in the event of capsize. The 1.8 tonne lifeboat is now launched from a trailer which is towed down the slipway by a tractor specifically designed to deal with the tidal range and weather elements at Strangford Lough.

Presentations were made to past and present crew members for their hard work and commitment over the last 4 decades. Lenny Lawson, Graeme Ellison and Billy Ellison were awarded certificates from the RNLI for their service of the many different roles they held within the station. John Murray (snr), Pat Browne and Mrs Brownlow were presented with a present as a token of thanks from the crew for all their hard work and efforts in the roles they play in the fundraising guild team and throughout the station in the past 40 years. John Murray (jnr) and Colin Conway were presented with RNLI medals and a present from the crew to acknowledge their long service awards for 20 years (Colin) and 40 years (John).

The evening was enjoyed and attended by Crew members, family and other members of the different teams within Portaferry lifeboat station.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone Jordan Conway, Portaferry RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on jordan_conway@rnli.org.uk or Nuala McAloon, Regional Media Officer on 00353 876483547 or Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Niamh Stephenson, Regional Media Manager on 00353 871254124 or Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk

RNLI online

For more information on the RNLI please visit rnli.org. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI News Centre rnli.org/news-and-media.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around Ireland and the UK. The RNLI operates 10 lifeboat stations in Northern Ireland and has 11 lifeguarded beaches which it operates seasonally. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, the charity has saved over 142,200 lives.

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.

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