Island's lifeboat crew to be honoured for rescue

An island’s lifeboat crew is to be honoured for a daring 21-hour rescue of a disabled yachtsman off the Co Donegal coast two years ago.

The eight-man RNLI Arranmore Lifeboat risked their lives to pluck Londoner Keith White from stormy seas as his vessel repeatedly capsized.

The 57-year-old, who lost the use of his left arm in a motorbike accident 14 years ago, was attempting to sail single-handedly around the British Isles.

RNLI chiefs will tomorrow award coveted ’Letters of Thanks’ to the voluntary crew who all hail from Arranmore Island.

“These awards are very rare and Arranmore Island is very proud of this achievement,” said Arranmore Lifeboat spokeswoman Nora Flanagan.

White was rescued in July 2005 after a massive search operation involving two helicopters from the Irish Coastguard, an RAF Nimrod plane from Scotland, the Celtic Explorer research vessel and several local trawlers.

White initially refused to be airlifted to safety and opted to remain on his boat, the Nephele.

The RNLI Arranmore lifeboat then attached a tow rope to his yacht amid 11-metre waves and eventually tugged him to the mainland.

White was treated in hospital for a cracked rib sustained during the 21-hour ordeal.

The Irish Coastguard helicopter from Sligo also sustained storm damage during the operation and had to land in Tory Island for repairs.

White was sailing around the British Isles to raise money for various charities, including the RNLI.

The RNLI Arranmore Lifeboat was established in 1883 and celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2003.

White and several of the personnel involved in the rescue are expected to attend tomorrow’s presentation event in the Lifeboat Station on Arranmore Island.

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