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Saturday, 30 August 2014

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Cumbrian lifeboat rescue heroes to be honoured

Two lifeboat volunteers who demonstrated remarkable bravery and skill during a rescue at Whitehaven Harbour are to receive one the RNLI’s highest honours.

John Stobbart   photo
John Stobbart

Shore crew member Andy Rodgers, 33, leapt from the harbour wall onto astricken trawler to help a seriously injured man.

The boat at the time was being battered against the outer harbour wall by powerful storm force winds and waves up to 12ft high.

On board the trawler was a crew member with a serious whiplash head wound after he was hit by a wire mooring rope which had snapped.

Having got aboard, Mr Rodgers was able to assess the man’s condition, communicate with lifeboat crew over the VHF radio, and attach a tow rope so the boat, the 25-metre George Lou-N, could be towed into the safety of the inner harbour.

The second award goes to Workington Lifeboat coxswain John Stobbart, 53, who demonstrated “remarkable boat handling” skills and leadership during the rescue.

Summarising his efforts on the day of the rescue, in early December 2011, the RNLI said: “Under coxswain Stobbart’s command, the lifeboat towed the vessel to safety, contending with waves up to four metres and the difficulty involved in operating within the confined space of the harbour.”

Once in the inner harbour, Coxswain Stobbart used the lifeboat to skilfully nudge the trawler, which had seven other crew on board, into position beside the inner harbour wall, where it was secured.

Paramedics were then able to get on board to tend to the injured man.

He was later transferred to hospital and spent five days in an induced coma but he has now recovered.

Sarah Nimmo-Scott, RNLI deputy divisional inspector, said the actions of Coxswain Stobbart, Mr Rodgers and the volunteer crew saved the man’s life, and also saved the vessel from being smashed up on the harbour wall.

“The actions of Andy Rodgers in taking the initiative to gain access to the casualty vessel were selfless and brave,” she said.

The men will both receive Vellums, awards in recognition of outstanding bravery. Also involved in the rescue, and to receive RNLI Vellum Service Certificates, were the following Workington RNLI lifeboat crew: Joseph Birkett, Matthew Bryant, Ian Cormack, Richard Glynn, Richard Matear, Stephen McAllister, Michael Cowling, Michael Hughes, Paul McWalters and Steven Wood.

Citations also go to 10 members of the Workington relief lifeboat Lord Saltoun which took part in the rescue.

Awards are also to be handed to the crew of the Workington lifeboat Sir John Fisher for a daring rescue they carried out in April last year.

They went to the aid of a yacht called Never Satisfied after it became stranded off the Cumbrian coast in what RNLI officials say were horrendous conditions.

The crew on the yacht had been overcome by seasickness, fatigue, and hypothermia.

The awards will be presented during a ceremony at Workington’s RNLI Lifeboat Station on Sunday, April 28, by Michael Vlasto OBE, operations director of the RNLI.

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