Barry has been recognised by the charity that saves lives at sea for his courage and boat handling skills during a rescue at night where two men’s lives were saved.
Barry’s award was presented during the RNLI’s annual award ceremony, held at The Barbican in London.
His fellow crew members from Anstruther, on the Fife coast, Euan Hoggan and Rebecca Jewell also attended the ceremony. They will be presented with Thanks from the Institution Inscribed on Vellum at a ceremony in Scotland in recognition of their skill and bravery that night.
This is the 83rd Bronze Medal awarded to a Scottish lifeboat station by the RNLI since the award was introduced in 1917. It is also the first gallantry award presented to a member of crew from Anstruther lifeboat station since the station was established in 1865, over 140 years ago.
Paul Jennings, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager said, ‘Barry deserves to be awarded for his actions on that night. He demonstrated fine boat handling skills and precise judgement, operating at the very limit of what was possible in the conditions.’
Barry said: ‘It is a great honour to receive this award, we are fortunate to receive such a high level of training from the RNLI which gave us the skills to carry out this rescue. I was able to act decisively on the night because I had such confidence in the ability of my crew mates, Becci and Euan. It was very much a team effort, recognition must also go to the shore crew and the crew aboard the all-weather lifeboat.’
Barry works at Rosyth Dockyard and he thanked his employers, Babcock, for their commitment to the RNLI by allowing him time off work to be on the lifeboat.
The D class inshore lifeboat Norma and Bill Burleigh was launched at 1am on 1 August 2012 with volunteer crew members Barry Gourlay, 30, Rebecca Jewell, 30, and Euan Hoggan, 22. The lifeboat was launched to assist two men aboard a vessel which had run aground in poor conditions.
The two casualties, Paul Harrison and his son Sean Harrison had set off from North Shields having planned a passage to the Isle of Man via Peterhead aboard their motorboat Princess a day earlier. They got into difficulty when they encountered a problem with their hydraulic steering and the worsening conditions forced their vessel aground.
The vessel had run aground at Crail, 10 miles south east of St Andrews, the strong winds and swell had driven Princess onto the rocks.
With Senior Helm, Barry, in control, the Anstruther inshore lifeboat (ILB) picked her way through the three metre high breaking waves, shallow water and debris in complete darkness to get to Sean and Paul aboard Princess.
Once the lifeboat crew had Sean and Paul safely aboard the ILB, they made their way out to deeper water and met with Anstruther’s larger all-weather lifeboat (ALB) Kingdom of Fife. Both casualties were transferred to the ALB and brought ashore in Anstruther.
Speaking of Barry and the rest of the crew, Paul Harrison said, ‘To do what he did with that boat in those conditions - that takes something.
‘They were just fantastic, there wasn’t anything that they didn’t do for us, a lot of people don’t realise that they’re not paid for it, they have jobs as well and they’re putting their lives in jeopardy to save other people.’
Michael Vlasto, RNLI Operations Director, said: ‘Helmsman Gourlay’s command decisions and decisive actions underpinned by exceptional boat-handling, and expert seamanship undoubtedly saved the lives of these two men – they would not have made it to shore alive if they had attempted to swim and, not long after the rescue, the Princess was driven further onto the rocks. Crew members Jewell and Hoggan also demonstrated tremendous bravery in supporting Helmsman Gourlay in what were extremely difficult conditions.’
A reconstruction of the rescue is available at this link: http://rnli.org/Pages/Video-Details.aspx?VideoItemID=nVRLO7nR
Pictures (credit: RNLI):
Anstruther1: Left to right, Rebecca, Barry and Euan
Anstruther2: Left Paul Harrison and his son Sean.
Anstruther3: The damaged motorboat Princess.
RNLI media contacts:
Henry Weaver, RNLI Press Officer for Scotland, 01738 642986, 07771 943026, firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Smith, RNLI Public Relations Manager for Scotland, 01738 642956, 07786 668903, email@example.com
RNLI Press Office, 01202 336789