Royal praise for RNLI volunteers

Larne RNLI volunteer crew member Fiona Kirkpatrick and fundraiser Alison Ford-Hutchinson meet HRH Prince Harry.  INLT 37-723-CON
Larne RNLI volunteer crew member Fiona Kirkpatrick and fundraiser Alison Ford-Hutchinson meet HRH Prince Harry. INLT 37-723-CON

Two couples from Larne RNLI have rubbed shoulders with HRH Prince Harry during his recent visit to Hillsborough Castle.

Lifeboat crew Fiona and Barry Kirkpatrick attended the Royal garden party last week along with Deputy Lifeboat Launching Authority Phil Ford-Hutchinson and his wife, fundraiser Alison Ford-Hutchinson.

During the event, the two married couples met with Prince Harry and discussed the busy lifeboat station and its work in the community.

The group were presented to the high profile visitor by the Deputy Lieutenant of County Antrim, Col Neil Salisbury OBE.

Commenting on the event, Larne RNLI crew member Fiona Kirkpatrick said: “We were honoured to be asked to represent our lifeboat station and we met some incredible people.

“We were introduced to HRH Prince Harry and of course took the opportunity to discuss our station and the work of our volunteer lifeboat crew and fundraisers in Larne.

“The Prince was interested to know how many volunteers we had at our station and commented on how voluntary groups like the RNLI require a lot of hard work and commitment from a team.”

Royal National Lifeboat Institution volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations.

Volunteers make up 95 percent of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew.

Meanwhile, the Hillsborough garden party was just one of the engagements taken on by Prince Harry during his debut visit to Northern Ireland.

He also travelled to Belfast and Ballymena, where he officially opened a new ambulance station.