Four Galway volunteers have been honoured for their role in raising funds and awareness for the RNLI, the charity that saves lives at sea, and in doing so supporting volunteer lifeboat crews in their work.
Marking the 190th anniversary of the charity, the RNLI Annual Presentation of Awards took place recently in the Ballroom of Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park and the Titanic Museum in Belfast.
In Farmleigh, Pat Lavelle from Galway RNLI city branch received a Gold Badge. Mr Lavelle is one of the unsung heroes of the charity, according to a RNLI spokesperson. “He is passionate about safety on the water.”
Before locating to Galway, Mr Lavelle fundraised for the Athlone branch and then became a founding father of the Galway Lifeboat Station. He has stood out on Eyre Square in the rain, hail and snow collecting for the RNLI.
Also honoured were Gerry and Martina Sweeney, Regional Winners of the Supporter Award. They started fundraising for the RNLI following the formation of the Galway Lifeboat Station in 1994 and have placed lifeboat collection boxes in a number of local businesses in their locality, also holding a church gate collection in surrounding areas.
In addition, every year they organise a Flag Day in Galway City during December and a Christmas Day swim in New Quay on the south shore of Galway Bay. In all, the Sweeneys are responsible for raising in excess of €100,000 for Galway Lifeboat Station.
At the Belfast ceremony, Frank Acton from Clifden RNLI received an Inscribed Statuette for being part of the fabric of Clifden Lifeboat Station, having been involved since its establishment in the 1980s.
Having served as lifeboat crew and mechanic, Frank has held the post of Deputy Launching Authority since 2003 and continues to be an ever present character at this west coast station. “A dedicated volunteer, Frank is a great support to the Operations Team,” said a RNLI spokesperson.
Praising the volunteers honoured at this year’s events, RNLI Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease said, “It all starts with the people who give their time, their donations and their expertise. Over the decades, as we have expanded our service and developed new craft and facilities; our volunteers, fundraisers and supporters have become more important than ever. Without them there is no lifeboat station, no lifeguard unit, no flood rescue team, and no coastal safety work preventing tragedies.”