COMPLETE with Stetson and cowboy boots, octogenarian Val Adnams officially launched the new Courtmacsherry RNLI lifeboat bearing her name.
The Idaho rancher was given a guard of honour by RNLI members last Saturday as she joined by Tánaiste Micheál Martin for the launch of Val Adnams, the Shannon-class vessel.
‘It is a great honour and privilege to have funded this Shannon-class lifeboat. It warms my heart to know that this lifeboat will be helping the crew to keep the waters around Courtmacsherry lifeboat station safe,’ said 88-year-old Val, the principal donor in funding for the vessel.
‘Most of the crew are volunteers who give up their time to help others. This lifeboat is the best of its kind and the crew who will use it deserve nothing less.’
She also explained her love of the sea and the RNLI. ‘From the age of twelve I raced sailing boats at the sailing club in Weymouth (England) and the RNLI was next door to the club.’
At 23, she moved to Washington DC where she worked on Capitol Hill for some years, before she met her partner Ed and settled in Idaho.
Courtmacsherry lifeboat operations manager Brian O’Dwyer received the lifeboat on behalf of the station.
He prefaced his remarks by paying tribute to his predecessor, Gerry Turner, who had sadly passed away (after an illness) on the eve of the ceremony.
‘I have every confidence that this new lifeboat will continue to provide a safe environment for our crew and a first class rescue service for seafarers in need of assistance at sea,’ said Brian.
The lifeboat performed a display in the harbour for the attendance and the Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 117, provided a flyover.
The ceremony was attended by county mayor Frank O’Flynn, RNLI head of region Anna Classon, RNLI director of engineering and supply Jamie Chestnutt, Coast Guard head of operations, Gerard O’Flynn, public representatives and members of local RNLI stations and Coast Guard units.
The boat was blessed by Fr Dave O’Connell, Rev Kingsley Sutton and Rev Jeremy Nicoll and the ceremony concluded to the rousing chorus of the Phil Coulter lifeboat anthem Home from the Sea sung by former station mechanic Michéal Hurley.
Following her inspection of the boat and in keeping with tradition, Val Adnams then poured champagne over the bow of the lifeboat – a boat for the 21st century. Val was joined at the ceremony by her cousin Morgan Stockley.
The lifeboat is replacing the station’s previous all-weather lifeboat Frederick Storey Cockburn, which over its life at the station went on 370 call-outs.
It was a long day for a number of the crew and station management as the lifeboat had been launched at 5.20am that morning to reports of a swimmer in difficulty off Inchydoney. The call-out ended successfully.