Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifesavers from across the UK were invited to join His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent at St James’s Palace to be presented with awards for the 27 lives they saved.
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.
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.
Local presentations will be held later, when other crew and lifeguards receiving framed Letters of Thanks will be recognised by the charity for their part in the rescues.
Mark Dowie, RNLI Chief Executive said:
‘First awarded in 1824, RNLI Medals for Gallantry are the highest honours bestowed by the charity. They are awarded 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.’
New Brighton RNLI helm, Michael Stannard was presented with the charity’s Bronze Medal for Gallantry for his part in a rescue in July 2020. Michael was presented the prestigious award in recognition of his boat handling skills, seamanship and courage during an incident, where the life of a man and dog were saved, but a woman tragically lost her life.
RNLI lifeguards Vittoria Farmer and Alex Ashen were awarded the Bronze Medal for Gallantry for their skill and bravery in saving a man’s life at Mawgan Porth beach in Cornwall in the summer of 2021.
RNLI Castletownbere’s Coxswain Dean Hegarty was presented with a Bronze Medal for Gallantry for the dramatic rescue of a fishing crew in October 2018. In challenging conditions, the crew saved the lives of six fishermen.
Coxswains of three Irish lifeboats Eamonn O’Rourke (Rosslare), Eugene Kehoe (Kilmore Quay) and Roy Abrahamsson (Dunmore East) were all presented with Bronze Medals for Gallantry for their roles in a rescue in October 2020 that saved nine lives and prevented a 100-metre cargo vessel, carrying 4,000 tonnes of coal, from hitting rocks at Hook Head.
Coxswain Eamonn O’Rourke will also be accorded a Thanks of the Institution Inscribed on Vellum for a rescue in 2017 in 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.
Salcombe volunteer crew members Iain Dundas and Richard Clayton were awarded Bronze Medals for Gallantry for their role in a challenging rescue of two people from a grounded yacht that took place at night in severe gale force winds in December 2020. Coxswain Chris Winzar was accorded a Vellum for his professionalism, courage and leadership under severe pressure during the same rescue.
Trearddur Bay RNLI made history by becoming the first station to receive a Silver Medal for Gallantry for a rescue onboard a B Class Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, saving the life of a female surfer. Helm Lee Duncan was awarded the prestigious Silver accolade in recognition of his leadership, seamanship, and exemplary boat handling in treacherous conditions. Three Bronze Medals for Gallantry were awarded to Dafydd Griffiths, Leigh McCann and Michael Doran in recognition of their courage and selflessness during the difficult rescue.
Portrush RNLI Station Mechanic Dave Robinson was accorded a Vellum for his role in saving the life of a teenage boy in the sea off Portstewart Head in county Antrim, Northern Ireland, 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.
Volunteers from Hayling Island, Andrew Ferguson, Daniel Macpherson and Lloyd Pepperell, were accorded a Vellum for their part in a rescue which saved the lives of three men in a stricken yacht in June 2020.
HRH The Duke of Kent has been President of the RNLI since 1969 after succeeding both his parents as President of the charity.