Portrush Lifeboat volunteers and friends gathered at Portrush Lifeboat Station to welcome home Stevie Bolster who spent the last three weeks cycling round Ireland calling in at every lifeboat station on his way - all to raise funds for the RNLI.
It started as a personal challenge for Stevie - to cycle unsupported around Ireland.
Round Ireland for the Lifeboats did not start out as a fundraising project. It was just an adventure for a middle-aged bloke with a bike and some time on his hands. However, it seemed foolish not to take advantage of this opportunity to gather whatever funds he could for an organisation, which sometimes we take for granted.
There are 45 RNLI lifeboat stations in Ireland, three of which - Lough Erne, Lough Red and Lough Derg - are inland. Stevie didn’t include these in his route as to have done so would have involved much backtracking and added about 300 miles to the already daunting 1300 miles, which he expected to complete in approximately three weeks.
Stevie cycled a total of 1423 miles and has raised over £1.8k for the RNLI, not counting what was put into collecting boxes at local stations on his behalf.
The trip offered Stevie a unique opportunity to meet some of the people who make the institution what it is: the wonderful Sheila O’Driscoll, mother of the Castletownbere coxswain, who could reel off the names of coxswains and RNLI families all round the country and Noreen Varney in Youghal, who pressed Stevie’s son Andrew, with emails to ensure that she could arrange a welcome for him.
Stevie was joined on some of the legs of his journey by friends Peter Scott, Phil Jones, Craig McIntyre, Rab Boyles and Henry Algeo who joined him on his last leg into Portrush.
Waiting for Stevie at the Portrush RNLI Station were his wife Lauraine, Portrush Lifeboat Operations Manager Robin Cardwell and the Commodore of Coleraine Yacht Club, Paul Leighton along with several other friends. He was duly presented with a pint of Guinness and a coveted Portrush Lifeboat polo shirt from the crew. Robin Cardwell said: “This was an amazing feat, for as well as raising money for the RNLI Stevie helped to raise awareness of the stations around the coast of Ireland. We in Portrush are proud to welcome him back to his home station.”