HRH The Duke of Kent presents gallantry award for Portrush RNLI rescue
A lifeboat mechanic from Portrush RNLI was invited to join His Royal Highness (HRH) The Duke of Kent at St James’s Palace last week (Friday 27 May) to be presented with a Vellum from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) for his part in a daring rescue that saved the life of a teenage boy.
Portrush RNLI station mechanic Dave Robinson attended the event with his wife Livvy, where he was awarded a Vellum for his actions that day.
The Duke – the RNLI’s President – attended a lunch for the 16 volunteers and employees and their partners, including lifeboat crew from Castletownbere, Rosslare Harbour, Kilmore Quay, Dunmore East, Portrush, Trearddur Bay, Salcombe, and Hayling Island, along with RNLI lifeguards from Mawgan Porth in Cornwall.
A total of 12 RNLI Medals for Gallantry were presented to crew and lifeguards by The Duke and six crew were accorded Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum.
Portrush RNLI Station Mechanic Dave Robinson was awarded a Vellum for his role in saving the life of a teenage boy in the sea off Portstewart Head in 2020. The lifeboat mechanic attached himself to a heaving line before jumping into the turbulent water and bringing the exhausted young man to safety. More information including video of the rescue here.
Lifeboat crew at Portrush RNLI are receiving two awards from the Institution for the rescue. Along with the Vellum for Dave Robinson, the Coxswain Des Austin, will receive a Chairman’s Letter of Thanks for ‘his professionalism, seamanship, and leadership under severe pressure’ during the rescue. He will receive his Letter at a presentation to be held locally later.
The callout occurred on Friday September 25th, 2020, when lifeboat crew responded to reports of a young boy spotted in the water off Portstewart Head. On arrival at the scene, lifeboat crew observed a teenage boy in the surf, waving his arms and flailing, while being pulled out to sea by the tide. In a dramatic rescue, a heaving line was attached to Mechanic Dave Robinson’s lifejacket, and he entered the water to reach the teenager, keeping hold of him in the choppy waters. Coxswain Des Austin manoeuvred the lifeboat in the breaking swell, to keep as close as possible to the casualty, while the mechanic kept hold of the boy until the lifeboat crew were able to hoist both to safety and return to shore.
Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said: ‘RNLI gallantry awards are given for saving life at sea and celebrate the courage, skill and dedication shown by our charity’s lifesavers.
‘To receive their awards at St James’s Palace from The Duke of Kent is an honour and as the charity’s chief executive, I am humbled and proud of all our volunteers and employees that make up this incredible institution. Every one of them and their families give so much to the charity and our purpose of saving lives at sea.’
Commenting on the honour for the station, Portrush RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Beni McAllister said, ‘Words can’t describe how proud I am of our incredible lifeboat crew in Portrush. We are all delighted for Dave on his gallantry award and for Des who will also be recognised for his role in the rescue. No crewmember goes out to get recognition or reward. They are selfless people who drop everything to answer a call for help and the people they leave behind at home and in the community take great pride in their actions. We had a full crew onboard the lifeboat that day, each one of them focused on saving that young boy’s life.’
Portrush RNLI mechanic and Vellum recipient Dave Robinson added, ‘Receiving the RNLI Gallantry award from HRH the Duke of Kent was a huge honour and I felt I was receiving it on behalf of all the crew in Portrush RNLI. I remember that day so clearly and I knew that boy had only minutes left before he was in danger of drowning. I entered the water and trusted in my crew and my training and just went for it. That poor boy was exhausted when I reached him and the whole crew were elated that he was saved. I’m grateful for the Vellum and to receive it with my wife, Livvy, by my side.’
Among the awardees where the Coxswains of three Irish lifeboats Eamonn O’Rourke (Rosslare), Eugene Kehoe (Kilmore Quay) and Roy Abrahamsson (Dunmore East) who were all presented with Bronze Medals for Gallantry for their role in a rescue in October 2020 that saved nine lives and prevented a 100-metre cargo vessel, the Lily B, carrying 4,000 tonnes of coal, from hitting rocks at Hook Head. More information here
Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke was also accorded a vellum for a rescue during Storm Ophelia in 2017 during conditions described by the crew as some of the worst they had ever witnessed. The crew battled 10-metre seas in force 12 conditions to save three lives. More information here
HRH The Duke of Kent has been President of the RNLI since 1969 after succeeding both his parents as President of the charity.
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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