Top award for Girvan lifeboat second coxswain Gary

Troon Coxswain Joe Millar (left) with Girvan Second Coxswain Gary McGarvie.
Troon Coxswain Joe Millar (left) with Girvan Second Coxswain Gary McGarvie.

A Girvan lifeboat Coxswain and his team are to receive an award for their bravery in rescuing four people on a 140-tonne fishing boat in severe weather conditions.

Girvan’s Second Coxswain Gary McGarvie, 38, will receive the Thanks of the Institution on Vellum, an award that recognises his leadership, boat handling and teamwork during the rescue.

Also receiving the award will be Troon Coxswain Joe Millar, 47, who also led his crew out on the joint rescue.

They each led a team of volunteer crew members in a joint rescue of a stricken trawler in rough seas and gale force winds.

Working together, the two lifeboat crews rescued four people on board the fishing boat and brought the vessel safely back to harbour using skill, courage and team work.

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.”

Girvan’s Gary McGarvie, who works for Police Scotland and has been an RNLI volunteer for nearly 20 years, said: “I have to take my hat off to the Girvan crew, they did everything I could have expected from them in such challenging conditions and it just goes to show that the training is invaluable.”

“I am so pleased that the crew are being recognised as well for at the end of the day I just see myself as the guy that pulled everything together.”

The seven crew members also involved will each receive a framed Letter of Thanks from the Chairman for their courage, determination and seamanship.

The incident took place on January 14, 2015 in poor light, a force nine gale with snow squalls and driving freezing rain. While on the way to the fishing boat, a crew member from the Troon ship was taken ill and evacuated immediately leaving them one man short.

Troon’s full-time Coxswain Joe Millar, who has been with the charity for 25 years, said: “The weather conditions were just horrendous, the worst that I have been in.

“It was a big fishing boat, one of the largest from the fleet in Troon and I knew the guys on the boat.

“We had challenging weather, a large boat and our mechanic had to be airlifted off on the way out to the shout due to illness which meant we were one crew short.”

Despite all of this the two teams managed to work together to free the vessel that had a fishing net tangled round the propeller.

It took three attempts to attach a tow to the trawler but eventually it was done, and the lifeboats manoeuvred their way into the harbour, with the trawler between them; the Troon and Girvan crews working in harmony.