On Sunday 17th of March tribute was paid to the 8 men of the Longhope lifeboat TGB who all lost their lives going to the aid of the SS Irene. Best Wishes to the People of Hoy Today
Military veteran and Orkney News reporter, Nick Morrison, joined hundreds of others on Hoy to remember the bravery and sacrifice of those heroes 50 years ago.
” gentlemen if you have tears to shed prepare to shed them now “
By Nick Morrison
Sunday was turbocharged with the emotions of sadness and grief . Some of the speakers voices cracked with those emotions . Your reporter was by no means alone with finding the need to surreptitiously wipe the corner of his eyes . The loss of eight men in their prime is still felt keenly in this close-knit island community and throughout the RNLI.
Indeed the sense of shock and grief was worldwide. The RNLI received many messages from other lifeboat organisations abroad . Sunday’s commemoration brought people from New Zealand and Canada , as well as people from the Gloucestershire village of Longhope having formed a long-standing relationship with their namesakes in Orkney .
There were RNLI lifeboats from Kirkwall, Stromness, Wick and of course Longhope . In addition there was a tug, a Pilot boat and a work boat which made up the flotilla outside the Longhope Museum which was packed with folk. There was a coastguard helicopter flypast as well, when the lifeboats left the tug and workboat saluted the RNLI boats with a water spray from their firehoses.
This was probably a unique assembly of our RNLI boats and their crews . The fervent hope is that we never see it again under these circumstances
The lifeboat crews and former Longhope crew formed the guard of honour. The honour party included our Lord Lieutenant Bill Spence, Convener Harvey Johnson for the council, Chief Inspector Matthew Webb for Police Scotland, Captain of the Royal Navy plus of course the current Longhope lifeboat crew
It was a blustery wind even by Orkney standards in the cemetery together with driving sleet . In a way that was almost fitting. Thanks were given at the end to all those on Hoy who had contributed to the smooth running of the days events
In addition thanks must go to Kirkwall police . Sergeant Stuart McKenzie came round the ferry and briefed all drivers with the arrangements and gave them a map at the same time . That map was to prove invaluable during the day .
Thanks also go to Orkney ferries for providing free passage to all foot passengers on the day and the oil terminal on Flotta for the use of their launch. Also to the young man on Houton dockside who was organising foot passengers into spare seats of cars .That is how I ended up in Richard Clubley’s car most of day. He is the new Press officer of Stromness RNLI. Thank you Richard. Indeed he continued to pick up other waifs and strays throughout the day. However rescuing RNLI crew has to be a first — their minibus failed to restart!
It would be churlish also not to thank Scapa for providing a dram at the end of the day .
” Its an ill wind that blows nobody any good”
More information and donations can be made here: Longhope Lifeboat Museum Trust
Facebook page: RNLI Longhope Lifeboat