Portrush lifeboat crew say goodbye to two stalwarts

Cox Des Austin, Fred Williams and Keith Gilmore LOM.
Cox Des Austin, Fred Williams and Keith Gilmore LOM.

The volunteer lifeboat crew and fundraising team from Portrush Lifeboat Station said goodbye on Thursday night to their Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM), Robin Cardwell and one of their longstanding Deputy Launching Authorities Fred Williams, on the occasion of their retirement.

Both men have a combined total of nearly 80 years’ service to the RNLI.

Robin Cardwell and Des Austin.

Robin Cardwell and Des Austin.

Robin Cardwell, served as crew, Assistant mechanic and then Coxswain before taking up the post of LOM 10 years ago. Fred too has been on crew, Assistant mechanic and then as DLA and Lifeboat House Visitors Co-ordinator, a post which he is keeping on much to the relief of everyone at the station.

Crew from the flank Station Lough Swilly also came to say goodbye, along with family and friends of crew members.

Incoming LOM Keith Gilmore paid tribute to Fred and presented him with his citation on vellum from the RNLI as well as a piece of glassware depicting the Lady Scott, the lifeboat the Fred knew well.

Keith said: “Fred’s experience and knowledge was unsurpassed and will undoubtedly be missed, especially when Returns of Service have to be completed.”

Des Austin, Coxswain, then paid tribute to Robin on behalf of the crew and presented him with his citation on vellum and a similar piece of glassware commissioned from local artist Denise Loughrey of Artisan glass from a painting by crew member Tim Nelson.

Des stated: “Robin’s knowledge has been invaluable and he will be missed by crew and operations team alike.”

John McCarter, LOM from Lough Swilly Lifeboat Station, then presented the two men with gifts on behalf of his crew.

Robin and Fred thanked everyone involved in their careers with the RNLI and wished everyone at the station good luck for the future, especially the new LOM, Keith Gilmore and new Deputy Launching Authorities, Charles Grossie, Kerry Gregg and Gerard Bradley.

A great night was rounded off with a beautiful supper prepared by Shirley Austin, wife of the Coxswain, and plenty of reminiscing and storytelling by crew past and present.