While Sam waited for help to arrive he was able to stay afloat wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) that he had received from a grant-aided scheme. The funds were secured from the European Fisheries Fund, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, ASDA, the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation and Seafish.
For the first time the RNLI brought everyone who was involved in saving Mr Cully’s life together on one stage.
At the time of his rescue Sam Cully commented: ‘I was only able to swim five or ten metres or so, and even then the wind and swell were washing me away from the shore. The boat went down so quickly, and I was so relieved to find the lifejacket doing exactly what I was told it would do. I cannot thank all those organisations involved enough.’
RNLI Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease introduced the following groups and organisations who all played a part in the rescue onto the Barbican stage; the Maritime Coast Agency’s Fishing Industry Safety Group, the Northern Ireland Fish Prodcuers Organisation, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the RNLI’s Fishing Safety team, lifejacket and personal floatation manufacturers Mullion, Seafish and the Fisherman’s Mission.
The two RNLI lifeboat crews who responded to the emergency after being alerted by the coastguard were Portaferry and Donaghadee RNLI and they too were represented. Coxswain Philip McNamara was present from Donaghadee lifeboat station and Portafery RNLI were represented by Deputy Launching Authority Lennie Lawson, shore crewmember Graham Edgar and lifeboat crew Marko Petrick, Sinead Breen and Paul Mageean. Luke Murphy who was also on the lifeboat crew that day was unable to be present.
Speaking after the event Donaghadee RNLI Coxswain Philip McNamara said, ‘It was an honour to be present at the ceremony and surrounded by so many people working together to help fishermen stay safe at sea. This was a life saved on the day of the rescue but Sam gave himself every chance by wearing a life jacket and being prepared. Everyone on that stage was a lifesaver.’
Lennie Lawson, Portaferry RNLI Deputy Launching Authority added, ‘It was a very moving occasion. It was lovely to be acknowledged in such good company. So many people work behind the scenes in the RNLI to make sure our lifeboats get to sea and we all do it voluntarily. In this instance the number of people behind the scenes was huge. This scheme has been very important to the fishing community and it shows that by working together we can save lives.’
The evening ended with an emotional video tribute by Sam Cully who then surprised the group on stage and the audience present by coming out with his wife Marie-Clare to thank everyone present in person.
Notes to Editor
Attached please see photo from the RNLI Annual Presentation of Awards at the Barbican Theatre in London. Photo credit: RNLI/Jon Stokes
Finale party: L-R Sam Cully and his wife Marie-Clare, Nigel Blazeby, Chair of the Fishing Industry Safety Group, Jane Goodwin and Tony Brown, Mulligan, Maurice Lake, Fisherman’s Mission, Dr Lynn Gilmore, Seafish, Dick James, Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation, John Speers, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Frankie Horne and John Fulton, RNLI Fishing Safety Managers, Philip McNamara, Donaghadee RNLI, Lenny Lawson, Graham Egar, Marko Petric, Sinead Breen and Paul Mageen from Portaferry RNLI.
RNLI media contacts
For information please contact Niamh Stephenson RNLI Public Relations Manager on 00 353 1 8900 460 or 00 353 87 1254 124 email Niamh_Stephenson@rnli.org.uk or Nuala McAloon RNLI Press Officer Tel: 00 353 87 6483547 email Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk or Portaferry RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Bernard Roddy Tel: 077 173 18003 or Donaghadee RNLI volunteer lifeboat press officer Maurice Neill Tel: 077 181 60865 or RNLI Press Officer Nuala McAloon Tel: 00 353 87 648 3547 email: Nuala_McAloon@rnli.org.uk