South East Wales

Penarth lifeboat crew's RNLI yacht rescue bravery award

Two members of an inshore lifeboat crew are to be honoured with a bravery award presented only twice in Wales and the west of England in more than a decade.

The Penarth crew's accolade follows a daring rescue of a yachtsman last May.

He was stranded in storm-force seven winds and 2.5m swells off Lavernock Point in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Two members, Aran Pitters and helmsman Jason Dunlop, will be presented with Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) thanks inscribed on vellum.

The other eight crew and a volunteer on Barry Lifeboat, which assisted, will get commemorative letters of thanks from the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI).

'Presence of mind'

Eleri Davies, of the RNLI, said: "Nobody should underestimate the significance of this award.

"There are RNLI gold, silver and bronze medals which rank higher than the vellum award, but in practice the threshold for these are so high that they're virtually never awarded.

"In Wales and the west, an honour this high has only been given on two previous occasions since 2000."

"Mr Dunlop and Mr Pitters showed incredible bravery and presence of mind in extremely difficult conditions, and I'd like to pass on the thanks of everyone in the RNLI."

When the Penarth crew reached the stricken yacht, it was listing so badly that it was in danger of capsizing.

Image caption Jason Dunlop and Aran Pitters won the highest praise for their role in the rescue

The occupant was dazed and not wearing a lifejacket.

Mr Dunlop, whose day job is chief executive of Cardiff Student Union, took the decision to pull the lifeboat up alongside the 7m yacht, even though the sea conditions could have sunk his much smaller vessel.

Once alongside, Mr Pitters, a graphic designer, clambered over into the yacht, dismantling the rigging on his hands and knees, as the deck was pitching too violently to allow him to stand.

He was helped to remove the injured yachtsman by Barry Lifeboat volunteer Martin Bowmer, who was then able to transport the casualty to hospital in the larger Barry boat.

Weather conditions worsened on the Penarth boat's return to harbour, and the crew were forced to divert to the sanctuary of Cardiff Bay.

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