Drama at sea for Banbridge artist

Pictured from left: Crew member Sharon Pollock, Newcastle RNLI chairman Patrick Pinkerton, Banbridge artist Geoffrey Watson and Newcastle lifeboat coxswain Mark Poland.
Pictured from left: Crew member Sharon Pollock, Newcastle RNLI chairman Patrick Pinkerton, Banbridge artist Geoffrey Watson and Newcastle lifeboat coxswain Mark Poland.

A BANBRIDGE artist has helped Newcastle Lifeboat Station mark a major milestone by presenting crew-members with a dramatic painting of their Mersey class vessel.

Geoffrey Watson portrayed the ‘Eleanor and Bryant Girling’ forging through the waves during an exercise in Dundrum Bay.

His presentation of the painting, at a ceremony in Newcastle’s RNLI boathouse, marked the 20th anniversary of the reconstruction and relocation that allowed the station to house the up-to-date, all-weather lifeboat that is the Eleanor and Bryant Girling.

Funded by a bequest to the RNLI in memory of Eleanor Bertha Girling, the vessel is one of 31 similar rescue craft stationed around the coasts of Britain and Ireland.

Manned by a volunteer crew of six and boasting a top speed of around 17 knots, with rescue range of around 240 nautical miles, it has taken part in a number of vital search and rescue operations in Dundrum Bay and the Irish Sea during its long tenure at Newcastle.

Last summer alone, the all-weather vessel and its inshore counterpart at Newcastle, the Aldergrove V, were launched 11 times to go to the aid of sea-users in difficulty.

Geoffrey’s evocative painting of the long-serving boat will now hang in a prominent position in the station where the vessel is housed.

It was received on behalf of the crew by coxswain Mark Poland, Newcastle RNLI chairman Patrick Pinkerton and crew member Sharon Pollock, who is also RNLI Community Fundraising Manager for Northern Ireland.

“The painting was a delightful surprise,” said Patrick, “and I know all the crew appreciate the gesture very much. We will ensure it gets pride of place in the station.”