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Portrush RNLI celebrates ‘Excellence in Volunteering’

Lifeboats News Release

Portrush RNLI is celebrating several volunteers who were presented with long service medals at Belfast Castle recently.

RNLI/George Pennock

Eddie Donaldson and Award Winner Jo May

Portrush RNLI is celebrating several volunteers who were presented with long service medals at Belfast Castle recently.

The celebration was held again after the Covid years and was attended by the Deputy Chairman of the RNLI Eddie Donaldson, RNLI Head of Region (Ireland) Anna Classon and Trustee and Council Member for GB and Ireland, Paddy McLaughlin.

The celebration was held to recognise the long service of volunteers from stations in Northern Ireland and Portrush Lifeboat Station was certainly well represented at the celebration.

Patricia Crossley from the Ballymoney Fundraising Team received her 50-year award.

Pat first got involved after when returning from a family outing to Belfast on 31st January 1953 and saw the lit up revolving news on a building which said the Princess Victoria had sunk and Donaghadee lifeboat was involved in the rescue. Pat’s family had always holidayed in Donaghadee, and her father was a lifeboat supporter, so the following morning they went to Donaghadee, and watched as the Lifeboat ‘The Sir Samuel Kelly’ returned with some survivors.

On that day Pat said to her father, that when she was older, she’d love to do something to help Lifeboats. So, from the 1960's to the present-day Pat has been involved. With the RNLI.

She was a flag day collector in Lisburn and Hillsborough, and since moving north forty years ago has been involved with Ballymoney Branch, at the invitation of the then Branch Secretary and Headmaster of Dalriada School, the late Alan Reynolds. Pat became Flag Day Organiser, a post she still holds.

Pat also holds her silver and gold badge presented by the RNLI

Jo May from Portrush and Portstewart Fundraising Team received her 40-year award. Jo first got involved with the Portrush Branch of the RNLI after she was scuba diving at Ballintoy in the early1980s and got caught in a rip tide. Luckily, she didn’t need the Lifeboat that day as she was rescued by a fisherman who happened to be on scene. But from that day has had a healthy respect for the power of the sea and has always been an enthusiastic supporter.

Jo has been a stalwart of the fundraising events, and with her sense of style and expertise in hospitality her events are always expertly run and organised.

Jo’s latest triumph and her proudest achievement was the Champagne Breakfast with Graeme McDowell that she organised during the Open, when it first came to Portrush and raised £36K. Jo’s particular event is the Annual RNLI BBQ held at 55º North in Portrush.

Jo said recently, ‘I love volunteering with the RNLI, and will continue to fundraise as long as I am physically able. The Team as called the Ladies Guild in the early days, but it has certainly evolved since then. I enjoy being part of such a vibrant team’

Other people who received long Service awards were:

Kerry Gregg ex Coxswain and Deputy Launching Authority at Portrush RNLI received his 20-year award

Carl Kennedy Water Safety Officer and Deputy Launching Authority at Portrush RNLI received his 20-year award

Bernie Riley Ballymoney Branch- 20-year award

Others who were awarded long service medals but couldn’t the ceremony attend were:

Rodney Byrne – Box Secretary 40-year award (Portrush)

Mac Pollock- 40 years (Ballymoney)

Anne McCusker – 30 years (Ballymoney)

David Elliot -30 years (Ballymoney)

Bill McCormick -30 years (Ballymoney)

Dorothy and John Weeks retired Shop Supervisors 20-year award (Portrush)

Judy Nelson Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer at Portrush 20-year award

The Crew, and Operations Team are delighted that members of the station and fundraising teams were recognised, and all enjoyed the very special day. It was also an opportunity to renew old friendships and to celebrate the commitment that the participants have made not only to Portrush Lifeboat Station but to the RNLI.

Well done to all.

RNLI/George Pennock

Pat Crossley

RNLI/George Pennock

Kerry and Edith Gregg and Party

RNLI/George Pennock

Carl Kennedy and daughter Ellie

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 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.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.