125th Anniversary of Stornoway RNLI

CELEBRATIONS of the 125th Anniversary of Stornoway RNLI Station began this week with a special Service of Celebration delivered by Rev Tom Sinclair at St Columba’s Church on Sunday, August 12th, and will end with a Fun Day at the Station on Saturday, August 18th.

At the Sunday service, Mr Sinclair presented Stornoway RNLI Branch Chair John Maclennan with a glass plaque commemorating the milestone anniversary and in ‘grateful appreciation of 125 years dedicated service to our local community.’

St Columba’s Session Clerk, Mr John Cunningham, commented: “It was a great privilege for us to host the crew, team and Guild from Stornoway Lifeboat Station and to mark their selfless dedication in the saving of life around our shores.

“We are immensely proud of our local Station and these Services are very important to us.”

All this week both the Stornoway RNLI station and shop onCromwell Streetwill be open for the public to pop in and look around.

And a display depicting the history of the town lifesavers will kindly be on display in the window of Murdo Macleans & Son department store, as well as an exhibition of lifeboat photos at the top gallery of An Lanntair arts centre.

On Friday, August 17th, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar will present the RNLI station with a Vellum and plaque to commemorate the years of service, and another Vellum is to be presented by Stornoway Port Authority during a function at the Woodlands Centre.
And on Saturday, it’s fun for all the family as the Stornoway RNLI Station hosts a Fun Day with food, drinks, teas, coffees and baking as well as face painting, games and stalls, and Lewis Pipe Band will be dropping in around4pm to provide some musical entertainment.

On Saturday Lifeboat supporter Jane MacIver will also present the station with a pair of recently restored plaques which hung on the original Stornoway RNLI Station situated atShell Street.

A member of the Stornoway Ladies Lifeboat Guild, Jane has undertaken a huge amount of fundraising, part of which enabled the restoration, and presents the plaques in memory of her late fiancé Craig Duffy who was lost off a fishing boat just outside Stornoway harbour.

Established in 1887, the Stornoway RNLI Station welcomed the island’s first lifeboat – the ‘Isabella’ – in August, before she was replaced for the faster and self-righting vessel ‘Sarah Pilkington’ in 1901.

The ‘James Marsh’ lifeboat took over duties in 1924 and then five years later, in 1929, the Stornoway station made RNLI history when its first motor boat – the ‘William and Harriot’ – was the first in the charity’s fleet to be equipped with radio-telephone.


Since then there have been three other RNLI lifeboats stationed at Stornoway before the town’s current vessel the ‘Tom Sanderson’ – the ‘James and Margaret Boyd’ (1955- 1975); the ‘Hugh William Viscount Gough (1975-1984), and the ‘Sir Max Aitken II’ (1984-1999).

Notable rescues and events from the Station’s history include:

1949 – The Swedish Lifeboat Society awarded the Institution its Plaque of Merit and Diploma of Gratitude for the service on January 28th when Stornoway Lifeboat landed 20 men from the MV ‘Hervor Bratt’ of Gothenburg.

1952 – RNLI Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain Malcolm MacDonald for the rescue of four men stranded on Sulisker Rocks on the 18th and 19th September. The Coxswain ably handled the boat in confused and unknown waters.

1962 – RNLI Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain Malcolm MacDonald and Bronze Medals to Mechanic J MacLeod and Assistant Mechanic John MacDonald for the rescue of two people from the fishing vessel ‘Maime’ suffering engine failure.

Drifting onto the rocks off Battery Point in a storm force wind, rough sea, rain and sleet on January 30th, a raft was floated from the Lifeboat to the ‘Maime’, but the stranded crew made no attempt to board. The Coxswain veered down and using the raft he and John MacDonald boarded the ‘Maime’ and dragged the survivors into the lifeboat.

1981 – RNLI Silver Medal awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Malcolm MacDonald and The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum awarded to the crew in recognition of their courage, determination and seamanship when they rescued the crew of 20 of the fishing vessel ‘Junella’, which went aground off Eilean Trodday, Skye, in gale force winds, poor visibility and very heavy sea on September 29th 1980.

1989 – RNLI Bronze Medal awarded to Coxswain/Mechanic Malcolm MacDonald for the rescue of two crew from the fishing vessel ‘Westward’ which had anchored off HolmIslandin a north-westerly Force 12 Hurricane, 15ft swell and heavy rain and was dragging seawards in need of assistance on February 13th 1989.

Coxswain Macdonald approached the casualty across the wind and finally succeeded in holding the lifeboat alongside the stricken boat long enough for the two crew to be snatched to safety.

1993 – The Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum was accorded to Coxswain/Mechanic Malcolm MacDonald in recognition of his leadership, seamanship and professionalism when the Lifeboat rescued the crew of two and saved the yacht ‘Emma’ which was in difficulties with engine failure 50 miles north east of Stornoway in darkness, 25 foot seas and severe gale conditions on September 11th 1992. This service lasted 20 hours.

1993 – A collective Framed Letter of Appreciation signed by the Chairman, Michael Vernon, was presented to Coxswain/Mechanic Malcolm MacDonald, Second Coxswain Donald MacLeod, Assistant Mechanic Robert Hughson, crew members John MacLennan, Murdo Campbell, John MacDonald and Angus MacIver for the service on January 11th, when the Lifeboat went to the assistance of the fishing vessel ‘Alvor’ of Portugal, which was in difficulties rounding the Butt of Lewis in winds gusting to Force 10, without navigational aids, damage to her bridge windows and steering defects.

2005 – For services to the Institution, LMA Dr Brian Michie is honoured by Her Majesty the Queen in her Birthday Honours, Member, Order of the British Empire (MBE).

2005 – Stornoway LOM Angus MacLeod is awarded the RNLI’s Gold Badge.

2009 – An Operations Director’s Letter of Thanks awarded to LOM Angus MacLeod for services on October 3rd.

2012 – Stornoway RNLI Branch Chairman John MacLennan awarded the RNLI’s Silver Badge.

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