Three RNLI volunteers from Portrush and Coleraine have been honoured at the charity’s annual presentation of awards in Northern Ireland. A Portrush hotel meanwhile has been recognised for its ongoing support to the RNLI.
The event which was staged at the Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s Office on Friday night (21 October) honoured 21 awardees recognising their dedication and commitment to volunteering over long periods of time in a bid to raise funds and awareness and to help save lives at sea.
The ceremony was opened by Christopher Brooke, a member of the RNLI Council of Ireland. Mr Brooke welcomed the awardees and their families before introducing the guest speaker, outgoing RNLI Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease.
Among the local awardees was Rodney Byrne from the Portrush Lifeboat Management Group who picked up a Gold Badge. The audience heard how Rodney was an ever reliable member of what was a busy Portrush fundraising branch and had been the box secretary for the branch for 25 years.
Dorothy Weeks also from the Portrush Lifeboat Management Group was awarded a Gold Badge. A valued member of the Portrush branch, Dorothy looks after all things related to running the successful shop at the lifeboat station. She ensured it was always well stocked and merchandised with a wide range of products suitable for all ages. She co-ordinates a busy rota with many helpers and also manages to find the time to attend branch fundraising events with a pop-up shop.
Volunteer Elenore Huston from the Coleraine/Castlerock branch was recognised with Honororary Life Governorship. Guests heard how Elenore was an exemplary branch secretary who had been a member of the branch for 54 years, during which time she had held most positions within the committee and who remained the driving force behind the small but busy coastal branch. Elenore received an MBE for services to the RNLI in 2001.
The Adelphi Hotel in Portrush was recognised with a supporter award. Guests heard how the hotel had been a long standing supporter of the RNLI and had always gone the extra mile by finding accommodation during busy peak times to meet RNLI requests. The hotel regularly supported RNLI events throughout the town and was always supportive of the work of the RNLI locally.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mr Hunter-Pease said there were a range of differing reasons why people volunteered for the RNLI: ‘There are the friendships forged through a common lifesaving aim. The thrill of seeing visitors enjoying your carefully planned events. The weight of a heavy bucket after a hard day’s collecting. And, yes many are motivated to volunteer for us by the pain of losing a loved one to the sea. They have converted that loss into a determination to make a difference to the lives of others.’
He said it was truly humbling to think of the collective years’ experience and care that was in the room: ‘To everyone one of you receiving an award – whether your service has been at sea or ashore – wear it with pride. It is the mark of someone very special, selflessly dedicated to the lives of others.’
Photos by Tim Nelson