RNLI lifeboat crew and fundraisers alike were rewarded for their services to maritime safety in the twice-yearly awards, which recognise an individual’s contribution to society.
Located on the southern tip of the Outer Hebrides, Donald and his crew are routinely confronted by extreme sea and weather conditions, and the station perform some of the most difficult and dangerous rescues that the charity’s lifesavers face.
In June 2006, Donald and the crew of Barra’s all-weather lifeboat Edna Windsor launched into severe gales and 11 metre swell to rescue stricken mariners and bring them back to safety. Donald’s modest response to the shout was that his crew had ‘completed the service flawlessly’, and that the conditions that day were ‘adverse’. In fact, Donald was awarded the RNLI’s Bronze Medal for Gallantry for his command, initiative and leadership on that day.
Just a few years later, in 2011, Donald was at the helm once more when the island’s lifeboat launched to an ocean-going rower some 58 miles out to sea. After a gruelling nine hours at sea in treacherous conditions, Donald and his volunteer crew were able to bring the rower back to the safety of land.
An offshore fisherman by day, Donald has been a committed RNLI volunteer for the past 17 years, and in that time has become known as a cheerful, reliable leader in the small community of Barra.
Speaking of his award, Donald said: ‘It’s a great honour to be awarded an MBE. I consider it a team award for the unfaltering commitment of the crew at Barra Lifeboat Station, and the support we get from the local community. I will wear it with pride.’
Meanwhile, other volunteers from the charity have also been recognised for their selfless commitment. Virginia Gayner, Chair of the Central London Fundraising Committee, receives an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for her enthusiasm and hard work that have made her fundraising committee the highest-performing in the charity’s 189-year history. In her ten years as a volunteer, she has personally organised a number of events that have raised over £400,000 for the RNLI, enabling the charity’s volunteer crews to be properly equipped and trained for when they head out to sea.
RNLI Vice Chairman and Trustee Charles Hunter-Pease receives an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for his ‘decisive and enduring contribution’ in helping guide the charity through a Continuous Improvement programme. A modest, inspirational leader, Charles has been involved with the charity since 1996, and will take over from Admiral the Lord Boyce when he retires as Chairman in early July.
Churchwarden Diana Porter, 77, from North Cotswold RNLI Fundraising Branch, receives a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her generosity and desire to help others, supporting not just the RNLI but Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Nurses and Kate’s Carers, too. As Chair of the North Cotswold RNLI Fundraising Branch, Diana has led a team of no fewer than 150 volunteers and has raised almost £200,000, despite the considerable distance to their nearest lifeboat station.
A number of individuals with connections to the RNLI have also been honoured with MBE’s. Dr Mike Hersant, Lifeboat Medical Advisor at Penlee Lifeboat Station, has been recognised for services to the community in Penzance, Cornwall. Capt. Rod Shaw, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Harwich Lifeboat Station, is honoured for services to Maritime Safety. Meanwhile, Iain Rankin is commended for his commitment to both Fraserburgh Lifeboat Station and his local Scout group, and Lesley Purchase, a fundraising volunteer from Shropshire, has been recognised for her unfaltering commitment to her local church and the NSPCC, as well as the RNLI.
RNLI Chief Executive Paul Boissier said: ‘We are delighted to see many of our volunteers in this year's Birthday Honours List. Volunteers are at the heart of our organisation and come from many walks of life, but are united by one common goal - to save lives at sea. It is wonderful to see such commitment and dedication rewarded by our patron Her Majesty The Queen.’
RNLI media contacts
For further information, please contact:
• Kirsti Pawlowski, RNLI Public Relations Officer on 01202 336789 / 07747 768799 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors
• The Order of the British Empire recognises distinguished service to the arts and sciences, public services outside the Civil Service and work with charitable and welfare organisations of all kinds. There are five grades, as well as the recently added British Empire Medal (BEM)
o Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross (GBE)
o Knight Commander or Dame Commander (KBE or DBE)
o Commander (CBE)
o Officer (OBE)
o Member (MBE)