Video: Lough Neagh rescue celebrate 25 years with gala ball

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Hundreds gathered at the Tullyglass Hotel to celebrate 25 years of the life-saving charity, Lough Neagh Rescue.

Born out of tragedy, the organisation has now responded to 536 incidents, saving over 300 lives and helping another 700 people.

LNR crew and their families

LNR crew and their families

David Gray, who lost his son - also David - to the waters of Lough Neagh on July 4, 1989 put the first LNR boat in the water at Kinnego - with his own savings and help from Craigavon Borough Council.

Aided by men who joined in the search for his son and three friends, they went on to establish a second station at Ardboe in 1991, then Antrim in 2014, providing the “triangulation of coverage” that David Gray Snr had dreamed of.

Speaking at the event on behalf of HM Coastguard, Gordon Munro said: “It has been an honour to work alongside your committees and crews - past and present.

“You are an integral part of the search and rescue network, who we can call upon 24-7 knowing that your lifeboats and crews will respond quickly and professionally.

“Lough Neagh Rescue has led the way as far as inland waters are concerned - RNLI has followed your example and with the Coastguard provided life-boats on Lough Erne, the Lake District, Lough Lomond and Lough Ness.”

Voicing his appreciation to “too many people to mention”, Colm Hughes, LNR chair praised the Coastguard and organisations they work with, before thanking DARD, GROW, other funders and councils “whose annual funding is greatly needed and much appreciated”.

He then handed over to founding members, Billy Mullan and Paddy Prunty who told the story of the fateful night that led to LNR.

Dungannon Mayor, Roger Burton, told the Mail: “I would like to commend all volunteers for the great work that they do - I am very very impressed with them.

“They go out in the middle of night and keep the lough safe, looking out for anybody who is in trouble.”