Involvement in two search and rescue missions over the past two weeks has brought Lough Neagh Rescue (LNR) to a milestone in the run up to their 25-year anniversary, a spokesman has said.
The charity, which now has crews at Antrim, Ardboe and Kinnego, has had its units tasked a record 1,000 times in 535 separate call-outs resulting in the rescue of 300 people, while a further 734 were helped.
Just before 5am last Sunday (Sept 14) morning LNR were called to the rescue of over 20 people who were reportedly stranded on Coney Island, whilst on Sunday afternoon just past (Sept 21), for the first ever time, all three LNR crews took part in a massive search operation in Antrim around noon.
Over 30 crew, both in the water and on the ground, were called in to help locate a man who was last seen in the vicinity of the Six Mile Water.
“We were in a full scale search of the Six Mile Water, and the ornamental grounds around Antrim town,” said a LNR spokesman.
The man - who was in his forties - later “turned up safe and well” according to police.
However, one LNR crew member told the Mail the search operation, which also involved the PSNI and Coastguard, gave the Antrim crew some valuable first-hand experience of such a mission.
The PSNI confirmed that they had initiated both operations through the Coastguard - who oversee the work of LNR.
The Coney Island Rescue, in which 11 young people were ferried back to Maghery, was instigated after a number of young people were reportedly left stranded after their boat did not return to collect them.
The Coastguard and LNR were asked to attend the scene by police, and 11 “cold and fatigued” people were brought ashore around 6am.