- RNLI lifeguards in Northern Ireland rescue 3,701 people in a decade of patrolling beaches
The RNLI in Northern Ireland has reached 10 years of delivering a world class lifeguard service to coastal communities and their visitors along the Causeway Coast and in county Down. From this Saturday, 26 June, RNLI lifeguards will provide a full-time daily patrol on 11 beaches in what is anticipated to be one of the charity’s busiest seasons yet.
Since 2011, RNLI lifeguards have saved 48 lives in Northern Ireland. They have aided 3,701 people through water rescue, returning lost children and delivering first aid and casualty care. During that time, lifeguards have responded to 3,290 incidents and carried out over 1M preventative actions.
The RNLI introduced a lifeguard service on seven beaches along the Causeway Coast in 2011 at Downhill, Castlerock, Benone, Whiterocks, Portrush East, Portrush West and Portstewart. The service was extended to three beaches in county Down the following year at Cranfield, Tyrella and Murlough. And in 2017, RNLI lifeguards began a new patrol at Ballycastle.
As lifeguards complete intense inductions ahead of the eleventh full-time summer season getting underway this weekend, Michael Thompson, RNLI Area Lifesaving Manager who himself is a former lifeguard and supervisor, paid tribute to the team: ‘Thanks to RNLI lifeguards our beaches are safer places, so we can enjoy our time at the coast and return home safely at the end of the day. Around 95% of a lifeguard’s work is in prevention. They keep beachgoers safe by educating them about water safety and spotting the dangers before accidents happen. RNLI lifeguards past and present have kept beach visitors safe over the past 10 years in Northern Ireland and will continue to do so for years to come. If you are planning a visit to the coast this summer, please remember to visit a lifeguarded beach.’
Karl O’Neill is a Lead Lifeguard Supervisor on the Causeway Coast and along with senior lifeguard Bosco McAuley, he was part of the first RNLI lifeguard team to patrol beaches in 2011. Karl is also a volunteer crew member at Portrush RNLI.
Reflecting on a decade of lifeguarding, Karl said: ‘The RNLI already had a strong history of providing a front-line emergency lifesaving service and were able to bring the knowledge and expertise over from the lifeboat service to the lifeguards. The equipment and the training from the RNLI really set the gold standard.
‘The fundamentals remain the same as when I started 10 years ago in that we still need to be highly trained, capable and skilled lifeguards on our beaches. But there has definitely been a shift with how we keep people safe. This has developed alongside the amount of people we now get visiting our beaches and going in the water. This year with Covid-19 restrictions and staycations on the rise, we believe we may already have experienced one of the busiest days in the 10-year history of lifeguarding here. Lifeguarding is such a proactive service now and with a busy summer anticipated, the team will be working hard to ensure visitors to our beaches can enjoy their day safely.’
For Portballintrae siblings Beth, Alex and Owen Montgomery who grew up beside the sea, lifesaving is in the blood. Beth was the first in the family to become a lifeguard in 2014 and as well as now being a senior lifeguard, she has performed a number of RNLI roles including that of Education Co-ordinator and Lifeguard Operations Assistant. Having inspired her younger sister and brother, Alex and Owen soon followed and are now preparing for their fifth season patrolling beaches between Portrush and Portstewart.
‘We grew up beside the beach and always enjoyed the outdoors,’ Beth explained. ‘We were swimmers from a young age and loved the sea, surfing and other water sports so when I finished school, I decided I wanted to find out more about joining the lifeguard team and Alex and Owen followed shortly after.
As RNLI lifeguards, we are all qualified in lifesaving and casualty care, are highly trained, strong and fit – we need to be able to swim 200m in under three and a half minutes and we need to run 200m on sand in under 40 seconds! However, a large part of our work is preventative. We monitor sea conditions and set up the appropriate flags at the start of the day and we watch people and offer safety advice both on the beach and in classrooms through our education programmes. It is a job we all love and we take great satisfaction from knowing we can play our part in helping visitors to our beaches enjoy their day safely.’
The RNLI is urging anyone choosing to visit the coast this summer to make sure they keep themselves and their families safe by following beach safety advice along with the government’s advice on travel and social distancing:
– Visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags -– find your nearest at rnli.org.uk/lifeguardedbeaches
– Check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage to understand local risks
– If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and Float.
– In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
You can keep up to date with relevant water safety advice on social media by searching #RespectTheWater so that you can an enjoyable and safe time at the coast
- Armed Forces Day marked in Coleraine
Elected members, including the Mayor Councillor Richard Holmes, attended the Covid-compliant event at the Diamond alongside the Lord Lieutenant for County Londonderry, Mrs Alison Millar and representatives from the Royal British Legion.
Speaking afterwards, the Mayor commented: “I was pleased to have this opportunity to remember the service and courage of our Armed Forces, along with their families, veterans and cadets at the beginning of Armed Forces Week.
- Council’s Summer Recreation Programme
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Summer Recreation Programme returns this July and August with a series of sports camps for young people.
Organised by the Sport and Wellbeing team, the camps for children ages 5 to 16 will take place from July 5th until August 20th at venues throughout the Borough.
Council have partnered with governing bodies including the Irish Football Association, Ulster Hockey, Swim Ulster, Netball NI and local clubs to offer a huge array of popular sports including, athletics, golf, football, tennis, bowls, judo, hockey and gymnastics.
New this summer is a Beach to Buoy Open Water Swimming course in Portballintrae, Girls Football Camp and Inclusive Cycle Days for families.
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Richard Holmes said: “We’re delighted to see the return of these fantastic opportunities for young people, which will encourage them to get out and get active this summer.
“This year there is a great variety of activities on offer and with a focus on inclusivity, health and wellbeing, our young people can enjoy expert sports coaching during the school holidays.
“The camps are available on a first come first served basis and are expected to be very popular, so I recommend booking early to avoid missing out.”
Bookings opens on Friday 18th June 2021 via our website at www.causewaycoastandglens.gov.uk/live/sports-development/summer-recreation-programme-2021 or you can choose to book via telephone (online booking is preferred).
Course costs vary and all details can be found on the online Coaching Calendar on our website, while brochures will also be available from Thursday 17thJune 2021 at
Coleraine Leisure Centre, Roe Valley Leisure Centre Limavady, Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre Ballymoney and Sheskburn Recreation Centre, Ballycastle.
For further information please firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sign up now for summer football camps across the Borough
With summer just around the corner, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has partnered with the Irish Football Association for a series of exciting Summer Camps.
The Camps, for boys and girls aged 5 to 13, will be held at Scroggy Road, Limavady from July 5th to 9th, Quay Road, Ballycastle from July 19th to 23rd, Kilrea Sports Complex from August 2nd to 6th, Rugby Avenue in Coleraine from August 2nd to 6th and the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre in Ballymoney from August 9th to 13th.
All Camps will run from 10.30am to 1.30pm and every child taking part will receive a free football.
Council will also be running its hugely popular Summer Recreation Programme with lots of variety including golf, tennis, hockey, judo, athletics, gymnastics and netball from July 5th until August 20th.
Booking will soon be available online and you can find out more by emailing email@example.com
- RNLI and HM Coastguard launch Beach safety campaign as coastal visits expected to soar this summer
Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend the RNLI and HM Coastguard are launching a new safety campaign, urging everyone to choose lifeguarded beaches when they visit the coast. With continued uncertainty over foreign holidays and international travel, the RNLI is predicting this summer will be the busiest ever as Covid restrictions are eased and people choose to ‘staycation’.
In a survey, commissioned by the RNLI, 75% of those questioned – aged 16-64 – expect to visit a UK beach or the coast between April and September, with around half of that number likely to do so three or more times. Asignificantly higher proportion of the public (36%) also said they plan to visit the coast more than usual this year, compared to 2020 (24%).
Last summer RNLI lifeguards on 11 Northern Ireland beaches, rescued seventy-one people and dealt with 225 incidents.
‘We are expecting this summer to be the busiest ever for our lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews,’ said the RNLI’s Head of Water Safety Gareth Morrison. ‘These new figures back that up.
‘We want people to enjoy the coast but urge everyone to respect the water, think about their own safety and know what to do in an emergency.
‘Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags. RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling eleven beaches in Northern Ireland this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.
‘Coastal areas provide a great opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open space but they can be an unpredictable and dangerous environment, particularly during early summer when air temperatures start warming up but water temperatures remain dangerously cold, increasing the risk of cold water shock.’
The key summer safety advice is:
Visit a lifeguarded beach & swim between the red and yellow flags
If you get into trouble Float to Live – lie on your back and relax, resisting the urge to thrash about
Call 999 in an emergency and ask for the Coastguard
Across the UK last year, RNLI lifeguards saved 110 lives, aided 25,172 people – including 1,908 involving bodyboards and 348 with inflatables – responded to 10,687 incidents and made more than 2.2M preventative actions.
Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard, said: ‘2020 was an exceptionally busy year and we’re expecting more people to take their holidays around our wonderful coasts this summer.
‘We’re asking everyone to follow a few simple safety tips, so the trip is memorable for all the right reasons.
‘Before setting out, take a minute to check the weather, tides and winds to help avoid getting caught out.
‘Leave inflatables at home as they are designed for the pool, not open water, where the wind and current can very quickly take you out to sea and into danger.
‘Recreational watersports such as paddleboarding are now incredibly popular and we’d encourage everyone to make it a fun rather than frightening experience. It pays to prepare and taking a mobile phone in a waterproof pouch when you set out for a paddle will mean you can call for help if needed.
‘If you or someone else is in trouble, always call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’
Not everyone who finds themselves in trouble in the water, expected to even get wet though.
‘If you find yourself in trouble in cold water, your natural reaction can be to panic and thrash around, which increases the chances of breathing in water and drowning. The best thing to do is to float on your back and wait for the effects of cold water shock to pass until you can control your breathing. You can then plan your next move to reach safety’ added the RNLI’s Gareth Morrison
- Royal British Legion centenary recognised with civic gift
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has recognised the centenary of the Royal British Legion with a series of presentations to local branches.
Alderman Mark Fielding gave a framed certificate to representatives of 12 branches within the Group 10 area: Aghadowey, Ballycastle, Ballymoney, Bushmills, Coleraine, Dervock, Dunboe/Castlerock, Garvagh, Limavady, Portrush, Portstewart and Upperlands.
The gesture is part of Council’s NI 100 programme which takes place throughout 2021 to mark 100 years of Northern Ireland.
Offering his best wishes to all those involved with the Royal British Legion in the Borough he said: “These centenaries are a unique occasion and as Mayor of the Borough I was pleased to have this opportunity to recognise both anniversaries by presenting this civic gift.
“The Royal British Legion is very active across the Borough, providing much needed support for the armed forces and veterans and their families. Established in the aftermath of World War I, its work remains as vital as ever for the services community.
“The charity raises much needed funds every year through its Poppy Appeal, with local volunteers to the fore in this effort. Those who serve, past and present, are strengthened by the presence of our Royal British Legions and I offer my gratitude to all those in Causeway Coast and Glens who play a part in this.”
As part of its ongoing NI 100 programme, a civic gift will be presented to all individuals, organisations, groups and businesses who celebrate their 100 birthday this year, coinciding with the centenary of Northern Ireland.
- 1m people vaccinated with first jab
Over a million people in Northern Ireland have now received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The milestone has been reached some five months after the very first COVID-19 vaccine jab was administered in NI. It means that almost 70% of the adult population has now received their first dose.
It also comes just days after another landmark was achieved – with more than half a million already getting their second jab.
Health Minister Robin Swann today welcomed the one million figure being passed.
“I cannot praise our vaccination programme too highly. It is a massive logistical undertaking and I have seen up close the dedication and the long hours that have been invested in making it work.
“Vaccination saves lives. It is vital to our hopes of a better summer and of continuing progress against the virus. It has been central to the progress we have made.
“I would again urge everyone to get their first and second jabs when their turn comes. I am certainly looking forward to getting my second AstraZeneca jab in the coming weeks.”
The head of the vaccination programme, Patricia Donnelly, said: “We are determined to maintain momentum and will keep vaccinating people as quickly as supplies allow.
“As we have stated, supplies are limited at present, but we expect that to improve in June. I would once again ask people waiting their turn to be patient. Keep checking the online booking portal as new appointment slots are being opened up on a regular basis.”
- NI 100 programme unveiled by Council
Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council has launched its NI 100 programme to coincide with Northern Ireland’s 100th anniversary.
Marking a century since Northern Ireland’s inception on May 3rd 1921, Council has created a wide range of initiatives including civic events, exhibitions, tree planting and an interactive documentary series developed in partnership with Ulster University.
Launched against the iconic backdrop of the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s only World Heritage Site, the once-in-a-life anniversary encourages us to ‘Glance Back, Look Forward’ while showcasing Causeway Coast and Glens’ unique achievements, people and places.
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Alderman Mark Fielding said: “As Mayor of the Borough I am honoured to introduce our NI 100 programme of events on the occasion of Northern Ireland’s centenary. As a Council we want to mark this important date by focussing on our Borough and its place within Northern Ireland. We have a rich past and generations of people who have made an enormous contribution to all facets of life throughout the past century and into the present day.
We’re proud of where we live and we want to showcase this through our programme of events which will take place between now and the end of the year.”
Councillor Knight McQuillan added: “The development of our NI 100 initiative has brought together all aspects of Council to create a varied programme which we are delighted to share with you today.
“This week, the Mayor will plant a native oak tree in each of our District Electoral Areas with further community tree planting planned for later in the year. There’ll be online exhibitions, including one which will shine a light on 100 of the Borough’s famous sons and daughters and another featuring our Good Relations creative arts competition. Commemorative coins will be presented to the centenarians of 2021 while we’ll also be recognising those organisations or businesses in the Borough who celebrate their 100th anniversary this year.
“We also want our communities to get involved by holding their own activities and projects which Council will support through our NI 100 Small Grant Programme. It remains open until noon on Wednesday 5th May so please get your application in.”
“It is our aim to build a shared understanding of our collective history in a way that can build good relations and I would encourage all of our residents to engage with the programme to help us achieve this.”
Later this month, the Freedom of the Borough, Council’s highest civic accolade, will be bestowed on Royal Portrush Golf Club in recognition of its successful hosting of The 148th Open in 2019.
The programme of events will run throughout 2021 with other highlights including an Eat Local Celebration in association with Taste Causeway which will celebrate our thriving local food sector, the installation of a commemorative stained glass window in Coleraine Town Hall and an interschools event which will celebrate the unifying power of sport.
- Queen sends centenary message
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has sent a message to the people of Northern Ireland.
“A century ago, the Government of Ireland Act came into effect, and today marks a significant centenary for both the United Kingdom and Ireland. This anniversary reminds us of our complex history, and provides an opportunity to reflect on our togetherness and our diversity.
In Northern Ireland today, there is, perhaps more than ever, a rich mix of identities, backgrounds and aspirations, and an outward-looking and optimistic mindset. The political progress in Northern Ireland and the peace process is rightly credited to a generation of leaders who had the vision and courage to put reconciliation before division. But above all, the continued peace is a credit to its people, upon whose shoulders the future rests.
It is clear that reconciliation, equality and mutual understanding cannot be taken for granted, and will require sustained fortitude and commitment. During my many visits to Northern Ireland, I have seen these qualities in abundance, and look forward to seeing them again on future occasions.
I also wish to recognise the important contribution made by our friends and closest neighbours towards the success of Northern Ireland. I look back with fondness on the visit Prince Philip and I paid to Ireland, ten years ago this month. I treasure my many memories, and the spirit of goodwill I saw at first hand.
Across generations, the people of Northern Ireland are choosing to build an inclusive, prosperous, and hopeful society, strengthened by the gains of the peace process. May this be our guiding thread in the coming years.
I send my warmest good wishes to the people of Northern Ireland.
- Foster and O’Neill praise preparations for re-opening of sectors
First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minster Michelle O’Neill have praised the efforts of businesses, organisations and individuals across sectors in preparing for reopening.
The Ministers said the resumption of more services and activities from tomorrow are steady steps forward that will make a significant difference.
Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill were speaking as they visited the Mid Ulster Sports Arena in Cookstown ahead of the return of competitive sports from tomorrow, 23 April.
The full range of relaxations coming into effect from 23 April are:
- Re-opening of close contact services, including training;
- Resumption of driving instruction and theory tests;
- Driving testing can resume;
- Competitive outdoor sport organised by a club, individual or individuals affiliated, with participant numbers not exceeding 100 and no spectators permitted, can return
- Outdoor sport organised by a club, individual or individuals affiliated extended to include squad training;
- Re-opening of outdoor visitor attractions including outdoor activity centres;
- Resumption of Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning (EATL) on an indoor and outdoor basis in gatherings of up to 30 people; and
- Static band practice/rehearsal will be permitted in agreed outdoor locations.
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “Thanks to the efforts of people across Northern Ireland, we are now ready to mark another steady but important step forward on our road to recovery.
“Our focus as we move out of restrictions has been on young people, families, wellbeing, and restarting our economy. The relaxations that are now coming into effect, and those that will follow before the end of the month, will make an enormous difference to the wellbeing of people and our economic recovery.
“I am grateful and proud to see the impressive levels of innovation and energy from businesses and organisations, across all sectors, to ensure a safe and smooth re-opening of services and activities. We must all continue to do our bit to stop the spread of Covid-19 to enable us to keep moving forward.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “Tomorrow is a day that many have been looking forward to, as some of the things that are so important to people will open up again.
“The success of our vaccination programme, coupled with the efforts of the public, has enabled us to make good headway and we are beginning to see the benefits as we gradually restart our society. These next steps represent more positive progress. The relaxations coming into effect – from the reopening of our hairdressers, to the resumption of competitive sport – are good news for people’s physical and emotional wellbeing. And it’s great news for those businesses and workers who will be able to restart.
“Incredible work has taken place across sectors to ensure they are operating in the safest possible environment. We must all do everything we can to stay on top of the virus and support more progress.”