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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Portrush RNLI name inshore lifeboat The Ken Blair at harbour ceremony

Portrush inshore lifeboat 'The Ken Blair' RNLI (Image: Lorna Weston)
Portrush inshore lifeboat 'The Ken Blair' RNLI (Image: Lorna Weston)

Portrush RNLI hosted a special ceremony on Saturday (15 April 2023) at the harbour when their D class lifeboat was officially named The Ken Blair by Sylvia Blair.

The lifeboat was funded by Sylvia in memory of her late husband. The lifeboat D-871 The Ken Blair arrived at the lifeboat station in November 2022 and has already been on service.

Ken spent his school holidays on the Copeland Islands off the coast at Donaghadee, and his grandfather was friendly with the local lifeboat crew.

It was this, which initially fuelled Ken’s interest in the RNLI and the couple were Shoreline members of the charity for many years. Ken had told Sylvia it would be lovely to have a Lifeboat named in memory of a person.

Sylvia said:

"He was such a wonderful, caring, dearly loved husband, whose sole aim in life was to help others. He was so contented and happy with his lot, I felt it a fitting tribute, following his death in July 2020 to fund The Ken Blair in his memory.

"It will provide a very valuable rescue service on the North Antrim Coast, a place that he loved dearly."

Deputy Launching Authority and former volunteer lifeboat crew member Charles Grossie was Master of Ceremonies.

Attendees at the boat naming ceremony seated in Portrush Harbour in front of the inshore lifeboat and Harbour waters.

Attendees included family and close friends of Ken and Sylvia, former crew and their families, fundraising volunteers, and raft race teams as well as representatives from RNLI Flank stations at Lough Swilly, Red Bay, Larne and Donaghadee.

Other guests included Northern Ireland Fire Service, HM coastguard and the Mayor.

RNLI Head of Region Anna Classon accepted the Lifeboat from Sylvia Blair on behalf of the Institution, during the ceremony before passing it into the care of Beni McAllister Lifeboat Operations Manager for Portrush RNLI, who represented the station.

Ballywillan Band, who are closely associated with the station, provided a wonderful ensemble of music and the local Sea Cadets assisted with seating the guests and handing out programmes.

Local Clergy conducted the service of dedication before Sylvia officially named ‘The Ken Blair’ with a bottle of Bushmills Whiskey. For the occasion, the lifeboat displayed maritime flags which spelled out the letter ‘K’ and ‘B’ in honour of Ken Blair.

Crew of The Ken Blair: Johnny Weston (Helm), Raymond Fletcher, Lisa Abernethy and Roo McCrudden.
Crew of The Ken Blair: Johnny Weston (Helm), Raymond Fletcher, Lisa Abernethy and Roo McCrudden.

Portrush Lifeboat Operations Manager, Beni McAllister added:

"The naming ceremony was a very proud day for everyone associated with Portrush RNLI Lifeboat Station. We are incredibly fortunate that, thanks to the generosity of Sylvia Blair and the relationship they have with the RNLI, we have this wonderful lifeboat to bring our volunteer crew members, and the casualties that need them, home safely, time and time again."

Beni added: "The naming ceremony to mark our new inshore lifeboat marks new chapter in saving lives at sea on The North Coast. We will keep Ken and Sylvia Blair in our thoughts. Such generosity and support is the lifeblood of our charity and ensures that we’re able to continue our vital role of saving lives at sea, today and for future generations."


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