May 3, 2024 | Nationwide News

RNLI volunteer Patrick ‘Paddy’ McLaughlin, a lifeboat helmsman from County Antrim, was presented with the 2023 Ireland Medal in recognition of a long exceptional service to saving lives from drowning, by Naval Commodore Michael Malone at the South East Technological University (SETU) in Waterford on 25 April.

The Ireland Medal is awarded annually by the Lifesaving Foundation, a Waterford-based drowning prevention charity. Honorary Secretary John Connolly said that the medal was introduced in 2003 as part of the incorporation of the Foundation as a not-for-profit charity. “All medal recipients have one thing in common – a long and strong desire to save lives from drowning. What makes this medal special and gives it prestige is the consistent outstanding quality of recipients,” he noted.

The Antrim lifeboat helmsman was the 22nd recipient of the medal. Paddy McLaughlin has 42 years of service to RNLI in Red Bay, Co. Antrim, starting out first as a helmsman of the small D class inshore lifeboat and now he alternates between coxswain of the large and fast Atlantic 85 inflatable lifeboat or the deep-water Trent Class offshore lifeboat.

He joined RNLI’s Irish Council in 2012 and its main RNLI Council in 2014, and became a trustee of the charity in 2020. What made Paddy stand out from other possible RNLI recipients was his Irish understanding of the powerful drowning prevention impact that could arise from a partnership between the GAA and RNLI.

He used his administrative roles within RNLI to promote a successful partnership thereby bringing drowning prevention messages into every parish in Ireland. The medal recipient said that he had been surprised when informed that he been awarded the Ireland Medal and had agreed to accept it only as a representative of 200 years of lifeboat crew volunteers.

Commodore Malone said that the Naval Service was proud to receive the Ireland Medal in 2016 in recognition of it having saved many thousands of refugee lives in the Mediterranean. Irish Navy vessels work closely with RNLI lifeboats, and he said that he had been delighted to agree to present the 2023 medal to one of its many exceptional volunteers.

In addition to an inscribed medal recipients receive a gift of Waterford Crystal. Welcoming all guests to SETU Prof Michael Harrison said that SETU was pleased to have a research partnership with the Lifesaving Foundation.

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