Updated: 24/10/16 : 11:54:45
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Two Sligo RNLI volunteers honoured

Two RNLI volunteers from County Sligo have been honoured at the charity’s annual presentation of awards.

The event which was staged at the Belfast Harbour Commissioner’s Office on Friday night (21 October) honoured 21 awardees recognising their dedication and commitment to volunteering over long periods of time in a bid to raise funds and awareness, and to help save lives at sea.

The ceremony was opened by Christopher Brooke, a member of the RNLI Council of Ireland. Mr Brooke welcomed the awardees and their families before introducing the guest speaker, outgoing RNLI Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease.

Among the local awardees were Patrick Carter and Martin Reilly from Sligo Bay RNLI fundraising branch, both of whom were awarded a Gold Badge.

       Patrick Carter presented with his Gold Badge by RNLI chairman Charles Hunter-Pease
                                                                              Photo: Tim Nelson

Guests heard how Patrick Carter had played a major role in the development of the Sligo Fundraising Branch and had served two terms as fundraising chair, covering a total of 27 years. His leadership and enthusiasm together with his dedication to the RNLI the audience was told, was an example to everyone. His leadership had seen the branch raise in excess of €30,000 consistently over those years. More recently he had overseen the smooth succession and recruitment of new, young, vibrant fundraisers, while ensuring there was continuity within the branch.

The gathering heard how Martin Reilly’s devotion to all things RNLI in Sligo was legendary. As well as being a Deputy Launching Authority at the lifeboat station, he was also the President of the Fundraising Branch. Martin chaired the appeal committee in 1998 which raised €100,000. Guests heard how Martin was always searching for new ways to raise funds and had been the lynchpin in securing a Christmas dinner which raised almost €10,000. He was there when needed and always answered the call while also being there to encourage, provide advice and promote the charity at all times.

Speaking at the ceremony, outgoing RNLI chairman Charles Hunter-Pease said there were a range of differing reasons why people volunteered for the RNLI: ‘There are the friendships forged through a common lifesaving aim. The thrill of seeing visitors enjoying your carefully planned events. The weight of a heavy bucket after a hard day’s collecting. And, yes many are motivated to volunteer for us by the pain of losing a loved one to the sea. They have converted that loss into a determination to make a difference to the lives of others.’

He said it was truly humbling to think of the collective years’ experience and care that was in the room: ‘To everyone one of you receiving an award – whether your service has been at sea or ashore – wear it with pride. It is the mark of someone very special, selflessly dedicated to the lives of others.’