BALLYMONEY’S Pat Crossley has received the prestigious RNLI Gold Badge - awarded to volunteers for their dedication and long service to Lifeboats.
Pat, who has been a RNLI volunteer for over 50 years, is one of only three people in of Northern Ireland to get the Gold Award in 2014, as well as being the first ever person in Ballymoney, to receive this honour!
She attended a majestic ceremony on Thursday May 22 at the Barbican Centre, London to be presented with the Award.
Speaking to the Times, Pat, from Stranocum explained: “I had no idea I was to receive the Award until a letter from the Chief Executive of RNLI came through my letter box in January. It was a complete but delightful surprise. Prior to the Ceremony we enjoyed the Chairman’s Lunch in the Barbican’s Garden Room with its wonderful views over London. My daughter Adrienne and four-year-old granddaughter Niamh accompanied me to the Event. Invited guests in the auditorium were shown incredible footage of various Lifeboat rescues from around the British Isles and Ireland, making quite an impact on the audience.
“Mr Mark Criddle, Coxwain at Torbay Lifeboat Station, who was awarded the RNLI Silver Medal for Gallantry in 2008, presented me with the Gold Badge, and congratulated me on my commitment. The entire day was extremely memorable and I feel very humbled to have received the Gold Badge.”
Pat, who received the RNLI Silver Badge some 15 years ago, first became interested in the work of the Lifeboat Service when she was just 11 years old. She continued: “My father used to collect for the Lifeboat and in 1953, I remember the Princess Victoria disaster and Dad taking us to see the Donaghadee Lifeboat in action. It had such an impact on me. I knew then that when I was older I wanted to do something to raise money for the Lifeboat Service.
“So when I got married and was living in Lisburn and Hillsborough in the late 60s I decided to get involved in collecting for RNLI, and when I came to Ballymoney over 30 years ago I continued my volunteer work with the Service, and became Flag Day Organiser, Press Officer and finally Branch Chairman. Over this time we have raised thousands of pounds, thanks to the generous community in Ballymoney and district, and an enthusiastic small band of committee members.
As well as the RNLI honour, Pat has also received recognition from the MS Society and was awarded the Shining Star, their highest award for a volunteer. The Alpine Garden Society also presented Pat with their Award of Honour.
RNLI is under the patronage of The Monarch, as it has been for over the 190 years of its existence, since founded by Sir William Hillary.