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Stornoway volunteer awarded MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

A volunteer from Stornoway has been awarded a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in Queen’s Birthday honours for his service to the RNLI.

John J Maclennan has dedicated 50 years to the RNLI.


John J Maclennan has dedicated 50 years to the RNLI.

John J Maclennan has been an integral part of the organisation’s lifesaving in the Outer Hebrides for more than 50 years, serving as crew, Deputy Launching Authority and now Chair of the Lifeboat Management Group at Stornoway.

John joined the crew in 1971 and sailed for 25 years. During this time, Stornoway Lifeboat saved 122 lives, and John puts that down to an incredible team effort from all involved and the excellent seamanship of Coxswain Malcolm MacDonald. Of the 122 lives saved, three stand out more than most.

On September 9 1976, John was involved in a shout on the Stornoway lifeboat – Hugh William Viscount Gough – at 11pm. The crew were responding to a report of an overdue small boat with one person onboard in the Loch Shell area of South Lochs.

The weather conditions were poor and as the time went by, the hopes of finding the elderly occupant safe and well were diminishing. The crew, working alongside the Coastguard, were about to pack up the searchlight and head back when the small boat was spotted tied to lobster creels in the lee of the island. The gentleman had spent at least 12 hours in the small boat, but was soon returned to safety by the crew.

In February 1989, some thirty years ago, John was involved in a shout during a hurricane that hit the Isle of Lewis. A fishing boat was in difficulty southeast of Stornoway and was located by the lifeboat – Sir Max Aitken 11 – and the two crewmen of the boat were rescued. The fishing vessel was never seen afloat again.

John has played his part in fundraising for the RNLI during his time volunteering for the charity. During lockdown, and on his 70th birthday, John embarked on a 38-mile cycle for the RNLI. With hopes to raise £500, he was barely out of first gear before exceeding the target. Incredibly, John raised £19,500 for the charity that means so much to him.

On accepting the MBE, John thanks the wider team who have played a pivotal part during his 50 years with the RNLI. John said: ‘I am both genuinely moved and surprised that people consider me worthy of a nomination for this honour. In accepting the award, I do very much on behalf of all of the Stornoway Lifeboat Station team, past and present, in recognition of their professionalism, dedication and commitment to the RNLI.

‘The Stornoway Lifeboat Station is deeply woven into the very fabric of our island community, and I wish the Coxswain, crew, Guild members and supporters continued success.’

Notes to editors

· Stornoway lifeboat station has been operating since 1887. To learn more about the lifeboat station go to:

RNLI media contacts

Natasha Bennett, RNLI Regional Media Officer for Scotland, 07826 900639, [email protected]

Martin Macnamara, RNLI Regional Media Manager for Scotland, 07920 365929, [email protected]

RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789

John spent 25 years as crew aboard the Stornoway lifeboat.


John spent 25 years as crew aboard the Stornoway lifeboat.

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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