Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Michael Kitt, recently presented the “SEIKO Just In Time” Rescue and Recognition Awards to members of Irish Water Safety and the public at Dublin Castle.
Rescuers involved in 14 dramatic near-death incidents, in which 18 lives were saved, were honoured at the annual IWS awards ceremony.
Also presented was Irish Water Safety’s inaugural Volunteer of the Year Award. Six International Awards were given to members of Inshore Rescue Organisations nationwide, and three individuals were made ‘Life Governors’ of Irish Water Safety for their efforts to reduce drownings.
Seiko Awards were presented to two members of An Garda Siochana based in Waterford for their part in a river rescue in the city more than two years ago.
On September 10, 2006 Garda Paul O’Flynn and student Garda Jennifer Grant received a call to the city’s Quayside, informing them that a lady had entered the river, which was at full tide. Both officers climbed over the railing and entered the water and completed a wading necklace rescue pulling the woman to safety. She was then transported to Ardkeen Hospital where she was kept under observation prior to discharge.
Speaking at the ceremony, Chairman of Irish Water Safety, retired Tramore Garda Frank Nolan, said: “Tragically 156 drownings occurred in Ireland last year. This figure would be even higher but for the dramatic efforts of individuals who saved people in water, and the ongoing work of volunteers teaching swimming and rescue.”
The Service Awards also acknowledged the 1,545 years of personal service by 84 Irish Water Safety volunteers in the teaching of swimming, lifesaving, rescue skills and the promotion of water safety awareness.
“Our focus is on Public Awareness,” Mr Nolan stressed. “We strive to reduce these mostly avoidable fatalities by increasing water safety awareness, changing attitudes and behaviours so that our aquatic environments can be enjoyed with confidence and safety.”
Two local lifesavers were both recommended for the International Life Saving Citation of Merit and Commemorative Medal.
Leonard Bell has been a member of Tramore Sea Rescue Association since the early 1960s and during that time he has given exceptional service to the Inshore Rescue Services at Tramore as a crewmember, helmsman, and committee member holding the positions of Treasurer and presently Chairman.
Involved in the establishment of both the Inshore Rescue Boat Service and the Cliff Rescue Service at Tramore, “his dedication, commitment and service have been exceptional over the past 40 years,” Mr Nolan said.
The establishment of these services in Tramore coupled with that of the Royal National Life Boat Institution has contributed greatly to the establishment of like services nationwide, the IWS chairman added. “These rescue services have played a major role in saving the lives of many nationalities who have found themselves in distress at sea or on coastal cliffs.”
Since the official launch of Bonmahon Lifeguard Club in 1986, PJ O’Shea “has shown outstanding leadership, commitment and enthusiasmtowards the development of Bonmahon Lifeguard Club,” Mr Nolan outlined.
“In 1990, PJ again had the vision for improvement and initiated the establishment of an Inshore Lifeboat Service at Bonmahon. A declared facility of IrishCoast Guard since its establishment, this service operates year-round.
“In the last 22 years, 96 persons have been rescued by the services at Bonmahon; the success of the service is a testament to PJ’s drive and commitment for the safe use and enjoyment of the seas in the Bonmahon area,” said the chairman, stating that Irish Water Safety was delighted to recommend him for “his dedication and zeal in establishing and continuedinvolvement in the rescue services at Bonmahon.”
Also, the following Waterford people all received a Bronze Bar to the Service Medal of Honour, each for 20 years of service: Martin Carroll, Blackrock House, Knock West, Clonea, Dungarvan – Examiner and Instructor; Lola O’Sullivan, Sunset, Garrarus, Tramore – Instructor; and Elizabeth Hayes, Ivy House, Kilmeaden: 20 yr – Instructor.