Belfast Telegraph

Cheers as Prince Willaim launches lifeboat with whiskey

By Kate Buck

The Duke of Cambridge broke with tradition as he officially named a new lifeboat during his visit to Belfast - by pouring a bottle of whiskey over the vessel.

Prince William was greeted with cheers from the waiting crowd and given a live demonstration of the work the Lagan Search and Rescue (LSAR) volunteers do, with one entering the frigid waters near the SS Nomadic for a demonstration.

The prince - who was unaccompanied as the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge copes with extreme morning sickness - watched intently as the team got him out of the water and used stretchers and ropes to lift him onto the dock in front of spectators.

Noel Keenan, from the operational management committee for LSAR, said: "Today was a simulated exercise to bring greater awareness to members of the public on what our charity's about and what our volunteers go through. The weather today was typical of what we have in this country.

"Most rescues don't happen when it's nice and sunny but when it's miserable, dark and cold. This is the first time we've had somebody of his stature come and look into what our charity does, which is fantastic.

"I hope his visit raises awareness for us and the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance and brings awareness to this area of water, and people that are in need, who come here when they are in a bad mental state and wanting to end their lives.

"It was good for everybody to understand the trials and tribulations that we go through."

The Duke, a former air ambulance pilot, then went to inspect the new helicopter, which was launched in July.

Onlooker Lisa Lap, from Carrickfergus, said: "I thought it was brilliant and I think LSAR are an amazing organisation who do a lot of good here in Belfast especially on the Lagan. Prince William coming to endorse it all was very nice.

"I think it's good to bring it to the attention of the wider network in the UK and that the royals support that initiative.

"Of course Prince William does have a bit of an interest in this kind of work so I don't think he's the one that needs convincing that this is really useful."

The new lifeboat was officially named The Ray of Hope by the prince, who swapped Champagne for Irish whiskey to launch the vessel.

It is the second lifeboat for LSAR, made possible by public support.

Sisters Sarah and Joy Ellis, from Belfast, both came to see Prince William.

Sarah said: "My dad was one of the guys giving a speech today and he kept it well under wraps that Prince William was coming. You get rain or shine here, so I think that the biggest surprise here is actually seeing a prince."

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph