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Stromness RNLI volunteers receive thanks

Lifeboats News Release

Louise Houghton, who was rescued by Stromness RNLI volunteers, returned to Orkney a year after her climbing accident to say 'Thank You' to the crew of the lifeboat for saving her life.

Large party of lifeboat folk grouped with casualty's family outside lifeboat station

RNLI/Richard Clubley

Stromness Lifeboat crew, guild members and coastguards with Louise and family
In May 2022, Stromness RNLI lifeboat - Violet Dorothy and Kathleen - was called to the foot of cliffs at Yesnaby, Orkney Mainland, after a climber, Louise Houghton, had a terrible fall onto rocks and then became unconscious in the sea.

Her climbing partner, Allan Evans, together with another member of the party who was nearby, managed to get Louise out of the water and onto rocks.

The Stromness RNLI lifeboat soon covered the short distance from Stromness and was quickly on scene. With the all-weather lifeboat unable to approach the rocks, the Y-boat was deployed and crewman, Peter McKay, was able to administer first aid, including a lot of strapping to stabilise broken bones, before Louise was very carefully transferred by stretcher to the Y-boat and onto the all-weather boat.

A Coastguard helicopter had arrived from Sumburgh, Shetland, by this time and Louise was soon up on the winch for rapid transfer to The Balfour Hospital, Orkney before flying again to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

After spending a total of three months in hospital, first in Aberdeen and then near home in Salford, Louise was able to take her first, tentative steps using crutches.

Now, a year on, she is up to eight-mile walks, jogging and even a bit of gentle hill-walking. However, she does not appreciate being reminded she has pledged to do a 5k run later this year to raise funds for RNLI.

Having met Louise this week, and seen how positive and determined she is, I would not bet against her. In a rash moment, Stromness RNLI lifeboat crew promised to run their own 5k at the same time.

Louise and the whole family of mum, dad, two sisters, Allan and friend Nick plus Tilly the dog travelled to Orkney from Wigan this week to say thank you to the Stromness crew members who saved her life, and to some of the coastguards who were first on the scene and who helped Allan once Louise was away on the boat. Louise said how she felt 'Thank You' was so inadequate as a response but the crew, and wider Stromness lifeboat family, were deeply appreciative of the visit. Friends for life have been made and I know we will all be keeping in touch.
Close up of cliff face with rocks below and calm sea

RNLI/Richard Clubley

Yesnaby Cliffs where Louise fell

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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