Night of ‘firsts’ for Portrush RNLI

The incident was new Lifeboat Operations Manager Keith Gilmore's first official shout.
The incident was new Lifeboat Operations Manager Keith Gilmore's first official shout.

When Portrush inshore lifeboat was launched last Tuesday night, it was a night of ‘firsts’ for the local volunteers.

The ILB was launched tonight at teatime following reports that a dog had fallen into the water at the Whiterocks.

It was Hannah Ritchie's first full service as crew (and the first with her dad Stevie Ritchie),

It was Hannah Ritchie's first full service as crew (and the first with her dad Stevie Ritchie),

What was unique about this shout was the number of firsts that happened.

Firstly it was the new Lifeboat Operation Manager, Keith Gilmore’s first official shout.

Not that Keith is a stranger to the station as he has been a crew member and a Deputy Launching Authority at the station before taking over at midnight on May 2 from the previous post holder Robin Cardwell.

The second ‘first’ that occurred was Johnny Weston’s first shout as helm of the Inshore Lifeboat.

Johnny Weston's first service as helm of ILB.

Johnny Weston's first service as helm of ILB.

Johnny is a long-time member of crew and relished his first shout as helm.

The third ‘first’ belonged to female crew member Hannah Ritchie.

Hannah had been on shouts before but the boat had always been stood down before they left the harbour. This time Hannah got her chance and to top it all it she was along with her dad, crew member Stevie Ritchie.

Unfortunately the call-out did not have a good outcome for the missing dog.

However, the Portrush ILB crew were able to get to the scene in good time to recover the dog and return it to its owner.

Lifeboat Operations manager Keith Gilmore said: “The RNLI will sometimes respond to reports of a dog in the sea, because where there is a dog there is a potential owner who will risk their own safety to rescue their dog.

“Unfortunately this story did not have a happy ending and we would remind all dog owners to keep dogs on a lead when walking along cliff paths.”

The ILB and the crew returned to station at 6.15pm.

* The RNLI’s volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the Ireland and the UK. The RNLI operates over 230 lifeboat stations with 43 in Ireland. The RNLI depends on voluntary donations and legacies. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 137,000 lives.