Awards for Girvan crew in fishing boat rescue

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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.

For more information on the RNLI please visit www.rnli.org.uk. News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available at the RNLI Press Centre www.rnli.org.uk/press

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 237 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 200 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 140,000 lives.