By Dan Walsh
Coxswains of three Irish lifeboats in the South East -Eamonn O’Rourke (Rosslare RNLI), Eugene Kehoe (Kilmore Quay RNLI) and Roy Abrahamsson (Dunmore East RNLI) were amongst lifesavers from across the British Isles and Ireland invited to join His Royal Highness (HRH) The Duke of Kent at St James’s Palace, London, last Friday to be presented with awards for the 27 lives they saved at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) awards ceremony.
Messrs. O’Rourke, Kehoe and Abrahamsson were each 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.