Rescued yachtsman salutes his daring lifesavers
A DISABLED sailor returned to a Donegal island yesterday to see the lifeboat crew that saved his life in a daring rescue two years ago, get bravery awards.
In a marathon rescue mission lasting almost 24 hours, Londoner Keith White (58), who lost the use of his left arm in a car accident, was towed to safety by the Arranmore Lifeboat in a force 12 storm and 11-metre high waves.
Yesterday at the Lifeboat station on Arranmore, Coxswain Anthony Kavanagh and the courageous six-man islander crew were saluted when they were presented with Letters of Thanks for the remarkable rescue.
"They were there for me on my day. Today is their day when they are getting their presentations from the RNLI and I wanted to be here for them," said Keith.
A delighted Nora Flanagan, spokesperson for the Arranmore lifeboat, said that the acknowledgment by the RNLI was very significant.
Keith had been attempting to sail around Britain and Ireland when he hit one of the worst storms in many years off the north west coast on July 2, 2005.
In the hours that followed, he capsized several times but managed to stay afloat.
His mayday call was picked up by a ship that alerted the Malin Coastguard. An RAF Nimrod from Scotland and the Sligo-based Search and Rescue helicopter were dispatched along with the Arranmore lifeboat.
The lifeboat crew battled the storm for a further 12 hours, towing the stricken vessel and its injured crewman to Burtonport.
Said Keith: "I was always aware of the great work the RNLI and all the rescue services did but you get a different insight when you experience it personally."
An undaunted Keith will embark on a greater challenge in September when he attempts to cross the Atlantic single-handedly. ANITA GUIDERA