RNLI crew celebrate 40 years of Portaferry station

RNLI crew celebrate 40 years of Portaferry station

9 October 2019

THE 40th anniversary of Portaferry RNLI station was celebrated at the weekend with a party and presentation evening for crew members and their families.

During the course of the evening the crew paid thanks to those past and present crew members for their dedication and hard work over the past 40 years.

Presentations were made to past and present crew members for their hard work and commitment over the last four decades.

Leonard Lawson, Graeme Ellison and Billy Ellison were awarded certificates from the RNLI for their service of the many different roles they held within the station. John Murray Sr, Pat Browne and Mrs Eveleigh Brownlow received presents as a token of thanks from the crew for all their hard work and efforts in the roles they play in the fundraising Guild team and throughout the station in the past 40 years.

John Murray Jr and Colin Conway were presented with RNLI medals and presents from the crew to acknowledge their long service awards — Colin for 20 years and John for 40 years.

Portaferry Lifeboat Station owes its origins to the RNLI lifeboat station that was established in 1884 in the village of Cloughey. The first lifeboat, The Faith, was commissioned the following year.

With the introduction of fast inshore lifeboats that were capable of making way against strong tidal currents, — such as currents up to eight knots experienced in the Strangford Narrows— it was decided in 1979 to place a single-engine C class lifeboat in Portaferry for evaluation.

The lifeboat quickly proved to be a success and a twin engine D class was commissioned. The Portaferry station was officially established on May 1, 1980, and upgraded to a 24-hour all-year operation in 1982.

The past 40 years have seen huge changes in the technology and design of the boats and the personal safety equipment worn by the crew. Portaferry now operates a B class Atlantic 85 lifeboat known as Blue Peter V.

Portaferry is one of seven Blue Peter RNLI lifeboat stations, and the only one in Ireland, whose lifeboats have been sponsored by the world’s longest running television programme for children — the BBC’s Blue Peter which first broadcasted 60 years ago.

The current Atlantic 85 boat has twin engines, radar, VHF direction-finding equipment and a righting mechanism in the event of capsize.

The 1.8 tonne lifeboat is launched from a trailer which is towed down the slipway by a tractor specifically designed to deal with the tidal range and weather elements at Strangford Lough.

The presentation evening was enjoyed and attended by crew members, family and other members of the different teams within Portaferry lifeboat station.