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Sligo Bay RNLI’s inshore Atlantic 85 lifeboat named Sheila & Dennis Tongue

Lifeboats News Release

At a special ceremony held today (Saturday 16 April), Sligo Bay RNLI officially named its new Atlantic 85 lifeboat, Sheila & Dennis Tongue, at its station in Rosses Point.

Peter Killen, a member of the Irish Council of the RNLI, accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI before handing her over into the care of Sligo Bay Lifeboat Station.

He paid tribute to the donors Sheila & Dennis Tongue who had left a generous legacy to the RNLI in recognition of the vital life-saving work of the charity and as a thank-you for the happy days they spent living on the coast at Exmouth. 

The couple were born in Birmingham in the 1920s and on Dennis’s retirement they moved to Devon where they lived until their eighties, overlooking the coast. The couple did not have any children and it was during their retirement that they came to know and admire the work of the RNLI and recognise its place in the life of the communities it served.

The couple were represented today by their nephews Raymond and Philip Tongue who travelled to Ireland for the special occasion.

Philip had the honour of officially naming the lifeboat during the ceremony which was also attended by the donor family of Elsinore, Sligo Bay’s former lifeboat which during her 13 years on service launched 189 times and brought 155 people to safety. 

The new state of the art Atlantic 85 lifeboat was introduced into the RNLI fleet in 2005.  The lifeboat is 8.4 metres in length and weighs 1.8 tonnes.  Improvements on its predecessor include a faster top speed of 35 knots, radar, provision for a fourth crew member and more space for survivors.

Since the new lifeboat went on service on Sligo Bay in November it has launched four times to call outs.

During the event, Willie Murphy, Sligo Bay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said the naming ceremony and service of dedication was a wonderful occasion in the history of the lifeboat station, and marked the tremendous generosity of Sheila and Dennis Tongue. 

‘It is wonderful to have the opportunity to thank the family directly for this amazing generosity. We assure you that you will always have a warm welcome here among us and we genuinely hope you will come and visit. We also commit to you our utmost dedication in ensuring that this wonderful new lifeboat is indeed a lifesaver in Sligo Bay.’

Mr Murphy paid tribute to the volunteers at Sligo Bay RNLI saying it was they who would give the new boat life: ‘It is your commitment and courage that will save lives with her in the future. Being a volunteer, whether on shore or afloat, involves a huge commitment in time and energy and I want to thank you and pay tribute to your dedication. Most importantly I wish all of you who put to sea safe passage aboard the Sheila and Dennis Tongue.’

He thanked the local fundraising branch for their untiring work and praised the generosity of the people of Sligo and further afield for helping to raise funds to enable the station to continue to save lives at sea.

He also thanked the families and friends of the crew, acknowledging that having someone involved in the RNLI was often not easy:
‘Away off for the many training sessions, or when the pagers go off you are being abandoned at the check-out in the supermarket, following down to the station with clothes as they ran off in their pyjamas, or suddenly having to make a whole new set of arrangements for the day. This can be a right pain, It’s not often we get a chance to publicly thank you, but we do today, to each and every one of you for your support.’

A lifeboat station was established at Sligo Bay in 1998. Situated at Rosses Point it is flanked by stations at Ballyglass to the south and Bundoran to the north.

In 1998, a D class lifeboat was sent to the station for evaluation and in 1999 an Atlantic 21 class lifeboat B-525 Spix’s Macaw was placed on temporary station duty on 12 March.

An Atlantic 21 class lifeboat B-512 US Navy League was placed on station on the 26 October.

On the 2 February 2002, B-781 Elsinore, an Atlantic 75 class, was put on service.

The new lifeboat, an Atlantic 85 and the latest version of the B class, was placed on service on the 19 November last year.

A crowd of well-wishers turned up to see the lifeboat officially named today with a bottle of champagne poured over the side of the boat before it launched at the end of the ceremony.

Among the guests officiating at the ceremony were Martin Reilly, Chair of the Lifeboat Management Group who welcomed guests and opened proceedings; Raymond Tongue, nephew and representative of the donor, who handed the lifeboat over to the RNLI, Peter Killen, Member of the RNLI Council for Ireland, who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the RNLI and handed her into the care of the lifeboat station and Willie Murphy, Sligo Bay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, who accepted the lifeboat on behalf of the station.

The Rt Reverend Monsignor Gerard Dolan PP, and the Very Reverend Arfon Williams, led the Service of Dedication.


Ends

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Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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