A VOLUNTEER lifeboat man has become the first ever crew member from Anstruther to receive an RNLI Bronze Medal for gallantry.
Barry Gourlay (30) has been recognised by the charity 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 on Thursday, held at The Barbican in London.
It is only the 83rd Bronze Medal awarded to a Scottish lifeboat station by the RNLI since the award was introduced in 1917.
Barry who works for Babcock at Rosyth Dockyard 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.”
The incident, which was covered in the Mail at the time, took place on August 1 last year when the D-class inshore lifeboat, named Norma and Bill Burleigh, was launched at 1 a.m. with Barry and fellow volunteer crew members Rebecca Jewell (30), and Euan Hogg (22).
They were sent to assist father and son Paul and Sean Harrison aboard their motorboat, called Princess, which had run aground at Crail in poor conditions.
Strong winds and swell had driven Princess onto the rocks but with Barry, as senior helm, in control, the Anstruther lifeboat picked her way through the three-metre high breaking waves, shallow water and debris in complete darkness to rescue Sean and Paul.
Rebecca and Euan are to be presented with ‘Thanks from the Institution Inscribed on Vellum’ at a later ceremony.
Barry added: “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.”
Michael Vlasto, RNLI Operations Director, said Barry’s command “undoubtedly saved the men’s lives”.
He added: “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.”