Marinewatch chief Frank is flying high

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Published 10/09/2016 | 00:00

Frank receiving his award from Andrew Bernos.
Frank receiving his award from Andrew Bernos.

Wexford Marinewatch founder and chairman Frank Flanagan got a big surprise this week during a routine visit to the Irish Coast Guard's Rescue 117 helicopter Base in Waterford, when he received a special presentation from the crew for his support and dedication in saving lives over the years.

Frank, an angler who has been a huge campaigner for safety at sea for many years, was the driving force behind a campaign in 2010 when the government attempted to cut the Search & Rescue helicopter to a 'daylight only' service. His efforts and dedication ensured that the South East maintained its 24 hour helicopter rescue service - and many lives were saved as a result. Since this campaign, Frank maintained close contact with the crew and also assisted them with their social media exposure over the years - ensuring the public were kept up to date with latest developments and rescues off the South East coast, reaching an online followership of over 25,000 people.

In 2012, Frank felt further lives could be saved and something needed to be done to combat the high level of suicides being experienced in Wexford Harbour - so he subsequently founded Wexford Marinewatch. To date, Marinewatch has saved 96 persons from entering the water in Wexford, and dealt with well over 200 incidents. It continues to thrive with public support and its success is going from strength to strength with more & more people being assisted every week.

The management team is made up of members from Wexford's emergency services, including the RNLI. To mark Frank's hard work and dedication over the years, he was taken by surprise when he dropped by the Waterford Helicopter Base where he was presented with a framed print of the helicopter signed by all the Rescue 117 Crew, and an honorary flight jacket. Winchman Andrew Bernos, who made the presentation, said the crews of Rescue 117 were extremely grateful to Frank for all he has done for us over the years.

'This presentation was our way of saying 'Thank You'. We hope these mementos remind him of how much we all appreciate his efforts and encourages him to continue his voluntary work in saving further lives.' Frank said that as chairman of Marinewatch, 'I take solace knowing that there is now always Rescue Helicopter cover available 24hrs a day, should anyone enter the water in Wexford Harbour or anywhere along the South East coast.' More information about Wexford Marinewatch can be found at www.wexfordmarinewatch.com

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