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Rescuer Tim is giving up Christmas to save migrants in Mediterranean

By Laura Abernethy

Published 26/12/2015

Good cause: Tim Brown will be based on the island of Lesbos, helping with rescue efforts
Good cause: Tim Brown will be based on the island of Lesbos, helping with rescue efforts
Good cause: Tim Brown will be based on the island of Lesbos, helping with rescue efforts

As his family enjoyed Christmas at home yesterday, a Belfast man sacrificed the turkey and trimmings to save the lives of migrants trying to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea.

Supply teacher Tim Brown flew out to Lesbos last weekend to board the Topaz Responder lifeboat, run by the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS).

Throughout Christmas and New Year period, he will work as a rescue swimmer in the sea between Greece and Turkey and he will be one of the first responders to overcrowded ships in distress.

He will man one of the two new fast rescue lifeboats that have been named after Alan and Galip Kurdi, the two little boys who caught the attention of the world after photos of their bodies washed up on a beach went viral across the world.

Tim has been working for Lagan Search and Rescue for the last year. The organisation provides acute water rescue and independent lifeboat service for the River Lagan and city of Belfast.

The group, which celebrates its first birthday today have been involved in an ongoing partnership with the Emergency Response and Rescue Corps in Malta over the last 18 months.

Following the surge in migrants making the dangerous trip across the sea in overcrowded boats, ERRC were involved in setting up this new MOAS mission in the Mediterranean and they asked Lagan Search and Rescue to come on board.

According to MOAS, at least 5,000 people have died worldwide making dangerous crossings. More than 3,500 of those deaths were in the Mediterranean.

Tim, who previously worked as a bosun aboard a commercial vessel, was quick to volunteer for the mission when they were searching for specially-trained rescue swimmers.

Training and Development officer at Lagan Search and Rescue, Philip Batt, explained what Tim's role will be: "He will be involved in rescue and recovery. The role of the rescue swimmer is to provide life jackets and support initially so that if anyone enters the water, they will have a buoyancy aid. If somebody ends up in the water, Tim will be trying to get them out."

Tim arrived in Lesbos last Monday, where he was joined by another rescue swimmer from ERRC in Malta. They underwent training together and the mission was officially launched later in the week.

Philip said the team in Belfast will be following the mission via social media.

He added: "All at Lagan Search & Rescue are extremely proud of the commitment Tim has pledged to this mission and have the utmost respect for his sacrifice to help those in times of danger and distress."

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