Highlands & Islands

Lochinver lifeboat coxswain awarded for bravery

David MacAskill Image copyright RNLI/NIGEL MILLARD
Image caption David MacAskill is the first member of Lochinver RNLI to be awarded the Bronze Medal

The coxswain of Lochinver lifeboat has been presented with one of the RNLI's highest awards for his bravery in the rescue of a ship's crew off Cape Wrath.

David MacAskill and five other volunteers went to the aid of the Norholm when rough seas began pushing it towards rocks after losing power.

Mr MacAskill steered the lifeboat in 10m (32ft) seas, thunder, lightning and hail during December 2014's rescue.

The lifeboat crew managed to get a tow line to the Norholm and move it away.

But on reaching what they hoped were more sheltered waters, Mr MacAskill, who has been awarded the RNLI's Bronze Medal, and his fellow volunteers, encountered worsening conditions.

The tow line broke twice before Thurso lifeboat arrived on the scene and took over the rescue operation, allowing the Lochinver crew to stand down and return to their station 12 hours after they had launched.

Norholm, and its four crew, were later towed to safety.

'Very rare'

The Bronze Medal is the first in Lochinver's almost 50-year history and the seventh to be awarded in Scotland in the last 16 years.

The other members of Lochinver's crew - Stuart Gudgeon, Robert Kinnaird, James MacAskill, John Templeton, Joseph Mackay and Lachlan MacAskill - received Letters of Thanks.

Stuart Popham, chairman of the RNLI, said: "When you think about the thousands of launches we carry out every year, it's actually very rare these days for a call out to end with a medal.

"During recent times we have gone for whole years without any gallantry awards. It's only the really outstanding examples of skill and courage that get recognised in this way."

He added: "But of course, that's not why people volunteer for the lifeboat. When they launch, a medal or a vellum award is the last thing on their minds.

"There's no doubt that four people are only alive today because of what you did that night and that is why this is one of those rescues that deserves special recognition for true RNLI gallantry."

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