Lifeboat helm’s courage is recognised

By Sam Turton  
Sunday 7th August 2022 6:00 am
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A bronze medal is to be awarded to Port St Mary RNLI helm Richard Leigh for superb boat handling, seamanship, and courage during the rescue of a yacht in rough seas last year.

This will be the first time a gallantry medal has been awarded to Port St Mary RNLI.

Nine letters of thanks will be presented to the volunteer crew for helping to rescue three people whose lives were in danger when a yacht’s propeller became entangled.

The dramatic rescue, early on the morning of November 6, 2021, involved both of the station’s lifeboats and saw volunteer crew demonstrate exceptional teamwork and skilled handling in adverse conditions that threatened all three lives on board a yacht.

assistance

The Isle of Man Coastguard contacted the HMCG Belfast to request the assistance of Port St Mary RNLI after the yacht had blown dangerously close to the rocks.

Due to the position of the yacht, the breaking seas and the limited depth of water, the all-weather lifeboat was unable to approach.

Coxswain Mike Keggen kept the lifeboat in a minimum depth of water and manoeuvred to provide protection so the inshore lifeboat could approach the yacht.

Inshore lifeboat helm Richard Leigh informed the all-weather lifeboat Coxswain Mike Keggen that due to the entanglement of the lobster pot lines in the yacht’s propeller it would be unsafe to tow the yacht to safety. It was agreed that the best course of action would be to take the crew off the yacht and bring them to the all-weather lifeboat for passage back to the Alfred Pier.

Port St Mary RNLI lifeboat operations manager Sarah Keggen said: ‘Throughout the rescue, helm Richard Leigh had to negotiate very difficult conditions.

‘It was through his experience, leadership and skill that he was able to retrieve the three casualties from the yacht. He was ably supported by both inshore RNLI crew, Chris Hill and Daniel Grace, who informed helm Richard Leigh of any hazards that may affect the inshore lifeboat such as breaking waves, shallow waters, trailing ropes and the anchor.

‘I would like to commend the helm for his great professionalism through this call out.

‘This was a very difficult rescue in very changeable weather conditions.

‘I am so very proud of all the crew who demonstrated great teamwork. This is what they’re trained to do and the fact they were able to put their training into action and save lives is a fantastic achievement.’

The volunteer crew were informed of their awards this week and will receive their awards later in the year.

In addition to the bronze medal for helm Richard Leigh, framed letters of appreciation signed by the chief executive will be awarded to inshore RNLI crew Chris Hill, Daniel Grace, RNLI Coxswain Mike Keggen and lifeboat operations manager Sarah Keggen.

The letters will reflect their individual courage, collective teamwork, and determination to save a life.

Framed letters of appreciation signed by the operations director will be awarded to the all-weather lifeboat crew including mechanic Gareth Watt, and RNLI crew Brian Kelly, Mark Pendlebury, Laura Cordner, Robert Marshall.

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