A new £123,000 rescue boat named in memory of one of the brave volunteers who risk their lives to help others has finally dropped anchor at Antrim Bay.
Stormont Minister Michelle O’Neill joined representatives from Antrim Council, the Coastguard, the PSNI and funders GROW, along with serving members of Lough Neagh Rescue, both past and present, on an historic occasion for the organisation as they gathered on Saturday to launch the ‘The Martin Kidd’.
The vessel, named in honour of a member who sadly passed away less than two years ago, opens an important new chapter for our life-saving organisation, and one that Martin was committed to.
The Fast Response Rescue vessel will cover the Antrim Bay area and, supported by the existing all weather stations at Ardboe and Kinnego, will finally offer a triangulation of coverage across the lough.
No-one could be more pleased than Martin’s widow Janet who said she was thrilled to see the project he had devoted so much time to had finally been realised.
“I’m so proud of Martin – and I’m proud of Lough Neagh Rescue and us getting this far and getting the station up and running,” she said.
“I know that Martin would be very, very happy with everything all set up and going. That’s what he wanted. He wanted a station in Antrim.”
Speaking at the launch, DARD Minister, Michelle O’Neill said she was ‘a big supporter of Lough Neagh Rescue’.
“I think that the work they do is fantastic,” she said. “The last couple of years have been a bit difficult, but you have come through it and fair play to everybody.
“The lough is a fantastic natural asset, but obviously safety is key and nobody knows whenever they’ll need the service of Lough Neagh Rescue. It’s so important that we continue to support it.
“A word of thanks on behalf of us all to all those people that give up their own spare time to provide a service to each and every one of us that live around the lough or have used the lough.”
Since neither Mayor Brian Graham nor his Deputy Roy Thompson was available to attend the ceremony, the honour of representing the Council fell to the Chair of the Development and Leisure Committee, Alderman Sam Dunlop.
“Antrim Borough Council is delighted to accommodate Lough Neagh Rescue at Antrim Lough Shore Park,” he said.
“The new rescue service will help ensure that those using Lough Neagh and, especially Antrim Bay, have the reassurance of a fast response from Lough Neagh Rescue and its dedicated team of volunteers.”
Station Officer at Antrim LNR Ivan Crozier said his thoughts were with the man who gave his name to the life saving vessel.
“This day has been a long time in coming and at last Antrim Bay has a new custom designed rescue boat capable of filling a very important role within Lough Neagh Rescue.
“This boat was named after our friend and colleague Martin Kidd. In doing him the honour of naming this boat after him, it means he will always be with us on the lough any time we’re out.”
Chair of GROW South Antrim Local Action Group, Vera McWilliam, said it was an important day for Antrim.
“GROW is delighted to award Lough Neagh Rescue this much needed funding to ensure that we have a talented team of volunteers in Antrim keeping the Lough users safe at all times,” she said.
“This additional service will reassure potential visitors and users of the Lough and in turn will benefit the entire rural area.”
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