RNLI reward two volunteers for lifesaving at sea

Two RNLI crewmen have been presented with RNLI Bronze Medals for Gallantry for saving lives at sea.

Anthony Chambers, a mechanic and crew member at Portrush, and Gary Fairbairn, a coxswain at Dunbar, were given the medals by Prince Michael of Kent at the RNLI‘s annual Presentation of Awards at London’s Barbican Centre yesterday.

Chambers, 50, was honoured for rescuing two teenagers who were trapped by a rising tide in a cliff cave on August 5 2009.

The boys were trapped at the back of the cave chest-deep in water and Chambers swam into the cave in total darkness to retrieve them individually.

This was the first gallantry medal awarded by the RNLI in Northern Ireland since 1982.

Fairbairn’s award was recognition of his courage, judgement and boat handling in conditions that knocked his lifeboat onto its side when rescuing a married couple from a stricken yacht on May 15 2009.

As there was no liferaft aboard, after the knockdown Fairbairn had to get the lifeboat alongside the eight-metre Swedish yacht in a force eight gale and 10 metre seas.

On two separate approaches the crew were able to grab first the woman and then the man from the yacht, which was abandoned.