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Portrush RNLI crew members recognised and thanked by charity

Lifeboats News Release

Portrush RNLI held a special ceremony on Friday 3 March to celebrate its crew members who were recently recognised for their role in saving the life of a teenager in 2020.

RNLI/Tim Nelson

Cox swain Des Austin with RNLI Head of Region(Ireland) Anna Classon

RNLI gallantry awards are given for saving life at sea and celebrate the courage, skill and dedication shown by the charity’s lifesavers.

Anna Classon, RNLI Head of Region, attended the ceremony in Portrush where Station Mechanic Dave Robinson was celebrated locally for being accorded a Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum, for his actions in saving the life of a teenage boy in the sea off Portstewart Head in 2020. He had already received his award from HRH The Duke of Kent – the RNLI’s President - at a lunch held in St James’s Palace in London last May.

During tonight’s celebration, Portrush RNLI Coxswain Des Austin was also presented with a Chairman’s Letter of Thanks for his professionalism, seamanship, and leadership under severe pressure during the rescue.

Five other volunteers including Lifeboat Operations Manager Beni McAllister and crew members Lisa Abernethy, Ben Durrant, Mark Mitchell, Raymond Fletcher were presented with Letters of thanks from the Institution in recognition of their part in the dramatic rescue.

The rescue which happened on Friday 25 September 2020, saw the lifeboat crew respond 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 the 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 meanwhile, 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.

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 and the crew members who were all recognised for their roles in the rescue. No crew member 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.’

Equally to be back here receiving the vellum from Anna Classon, our RNLI Head of Region in front of my family, friends and crew is very special.

Des Austin Coxswain said:

‘ The All-weather Lifeboat had already been requested to launched to a shout and was re-directed to Portstewart, so this was a timely interaction. The teamwork deployed by the crew that day was outstanding, everyone knew exactly what they had to do, even though our training had been restricted due to Covid at that time. I am very proud of them all’

Ends

RNLI/Tim Nelson

Cox/Mechanic Dave Robinson with Head of Region(Ireland) Anna Classon

RNLI/Judy Nelson

Members of the Portrush RNLI crew with their awards

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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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 by email.

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