Unsung heroes of Galway lifeboat stations honoured

Frank Acton from Clifden receives his Inscribed Statuette from RNLI chairman Charles Hunter-Pease.

Frank Acton from Clifden receives his Inscribed Statuette from RNLI chairman Charles Hunter-Pease.

Four RNLI Galway volunteers were honoured at awards ceremonies in Dublin and Belfast.

Pat Lavelle, Gerry and Martina Sweeney and Frank Acton were among the volunteers selected for honours at this year’s awards.

In Dublin Pat Lavelle from Galway RNLI city branch received a gold badge.

One of the unsung heroes of the RNLI, Pat Lavelle is passionate about safety on the water, and before locating to Galway, he fundraised for the Athlone branch. He then became a founding father of the Galway Lifeboat Station, and has stood in Eyre Square in rain, hail and snow collecting for the RNLI.

Gerry and Martina Sweeney were regional winners of the Supporter Award. The Sweeneys started fundraising for the RNLI following the formation of the Galway Lifeboat Station in 1994. They have placed lifeboat collection boxes in a number of local businesses in their locality and hold a church gate collection in surrounding areas. In addition, every year they organise a Flag Day in Galway city during December and a Christmas Day swim in New Quay on the south shore of Galway Bay. The Sweeneys are responsible for raising in excess of €100,000 for Galway Lifeboat Station.

At the Belfast ceremony Frank Acton from Clifden RNLI received an Inscribed Statuette. Frank received his award for being an important member of Clifden Lifeboat Station, having been involved since its establishment in the 1980s. Having served as lifeboat crew and mechanic, Frank has held the post of deputy launching authority since 2003 and he continues to be an ever-present character at this west coast station. A dedicated volunteer, Frank is a great support to the operations team.

The RNLI annual presentation took place recently in the ballroom of Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park and the Titanic Museum in Belfast. They were special occasions as they also marked the 190th anniversary of the charity that saves lives at sea and on inland waters. The awards recognise fundraising and operational volunteers from across Ireland for their role in raising funds and awareness for the RNLI and in doing so supporting the volunteer lifeboat crews in their work.

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