Barra RNLI lifeboat volunteer awarded medal for saving yacht and crew on Shetland Round Britain and Ireland Race 9/10/06


Barra RNLI lifeboat Coxswain Donald MacLeod is to be awarded the charity’s Bronze Medal.

Thirty-nine year-old MacLeod was award the medal for his command, leadership and initiative in the use of local knowledge to save Vijara, a badly damaged 12m aluminium racing yacht, with two people on board in atrocious conditions during the Shetland Round Britain and Ireland Race earlier this year see previous news story here . Coxswain MacLeod is the first Scottish lifeboat crewmember to have been awarded a medal in five years.

Other Royal National Lifeboat Institution volunteers, Deputy Second Coxswain Ranald MacLean (49), Mechanic Angus MacNeil* (29), Second Mechanic Lachlan Douglas (34) and Crewmembers Iain Boyd (23) and Michael MacNeil (39), who were also on board the Barra RNLI lifeboat, are to receive Medal Service Certificates for their crucial part in the rescue on 21 June this year.

Chatting about the rescue John Caldwell, Scotland’s RNLI Divisional Inspector explained: ‘Using considerable local knowledge, experience, nerve and skill volunteer Coxswain Donald MacLeod piloted the RNLI lifeboat through particularly dangerous waters, in appalling weather conditions, to intercept a damaged yacht with an injured skipper. Then without the use of navigational aids he escorted the yacht through narrow approaches into calmer waters and safety, maintaining position despite the lifeboat being knocked down by the large seas.

‘The RNLI lifeboat crew calmly supported Coxswain MacLeod fulfilling all their assigned roles, ensuring the service was completed flawlessly despite the adverse conditions.

‘Without Coxswain MacLeod’s intervention, it is highly likely the yacht would have attempted to pass through the Sound of Barra, a passage that would have been extremely dangerous in the circumstances and could easily have resulted in the loss of the yacht and her crew.’

The bronze medal and Medal Service Certificates will be formally presented at the RNLI’s Annual Presentation of Awards in London, May 2007.