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RNLI Troon and Girvan volunteers receive awards for rescue in severe weather

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteers from Troon and Girvan lifeboat stations were given a standing ovation from more than 200 people when they received awards for a notable rescue.

The volunteers were invited to Perth yesterday (Thursday 9 June) for an annual awards ceremony marking outstanding RNLI achievements in Scotland.

The awards were in recognition of an incident on 14 January 2015 when a 140-tonne trawler had fouled its propeller six miles off Troon in rapidly deteriorating weather conditions.

An account of the rescue was read out by Jon Knight, the RNLI’s Head of Lifesaving. He told the audience how Girvan’s Second Coxswain Gary McGarvie and Troon’s Coxswain Colin (Joe) Millar led their volunteer crews in a combined attempt to rescue the trawler.

One of the hardest elements of the rescue was bringing the trawler back into Troon harbour.

Mr Knight said, ‘The crews had to enter the harbour at speed while maintaining control of the trawler in powerful waves. With the walls either side of them, they only had one chance to get it right.

‘Despite the physical and mental challenges they had already faced, the lifeboat crews kept their concentration and safely brought the trawler in. The relieved crews stepped onto dry land after a gruelling 4.5 hours at sea.

‘After warming up, the Girvan crew headed back once more into the rough swell, 91mph winds and falling darkness for a three-hour trip back to their home town.’

Gary and Joe were presented with the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum by Charles Hunter-Pease, the RNLI’s Chairman.

A Framed Letter of Thanks from the Chairman of the Institution was presented to Girvan’s Barry Hubbard, Ian McClymont, Henry McMaster and John Tait. (Keith Woods was not able to attend the presentation)

Troon’s Trevor Boyes, Allan Craig and Paul Morledge also received the Framed Letter of Thanks.

Joe, who has been with the charity for more than 25 years, recalled the rescue and said, ‘Out at sea, if anything went wrong, we had time to sort it out and fix it. In the harbour, if we made a wrong move, it would have ended in tragedy.

‘Our volunteers from Troon and from our flanking station at Girvan were delighted to be invited to the annual awards ceremony to receive our awards.’

RNLI Operations Director, George Rawlinson, said, ‘The impressive team work of Coxswains Joe Millar and Gary McGarvie saved four people from a perilous situation, while also ensuring their own crews stayed safe. It is no mean feat to tow a large, disabled fishing vessel into a harbour in heavy seas and freezing squally conditions. It is a testament to their boat handling skill, leadership and courage that this rescue had such a successful outcome.’

Gary, who works for Police Scotland, has been an RNLI volunteer for 20 years and he was also presented with a Long Service  Badge.

Picture Caption: Charles Hunter-Pease, RNLI Chairman, left, congratulates the Troon and Girvan RNLI volunteers. (Joe Millar, left, Gary McGarvie, right, with their crews) Picture by RNLI/Sam Jones.

Media contacts:
For more information please contact Richard Smith, Public Relations Manager for Scotland, on 07786 668903 or richard_smith@rnli.org.uk. Or contact the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or pressoffice@rnli.org.uk.

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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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland