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Robert Courts MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transport, with responsibility for aviation and maritime, has presented the Billy Deacon SAR Memorial Trophy to three of HM Coastguard’s search and rescue crew in the U.K., recognizing their outstanding performance in dangerous circumstances in 2020-21.
Winch paramedics Abi Wild and Niall Hanson, and winch operator Ginge Steabler, were presented with the memorial trophy, and an inscribed Breitling watch, at the Air League’s Honours and Awards Reception Ceremony at the House of Commons, London on, June 22, 2022.
The 2022 award was made to winch paramedic Abi Wild who, at considerable personal risk, was winched onboard a stricken vessel being pounded by breaking waves on rocks close to Salcombe Harbour on August 7, 2021.
Wild was on duty with the HM Coastguard helicopter at Newquay when it was tasked with rescuing the crew of the yacht, which was being rapidly broken apart. When onboard, Wild was able to reassure the two people below its deck and, with great difficulty, assisted them into the rescue harness.
Intense physical exertion was needed to combat the force of the sea, as the yacht was continually enveloped in rising waves, with Wild fighting to hold on to avoid being swept away as she completed the rescue.
Winch paramedic Niall Hanson and winch operator Ginge Steabler received the 2020 award following their work to recover two people from the water in hazardous conditions on the south-west coast during the summer of 2020.
Maritime Minister Robert Courts said: “Abi, Niall, and Ginge epitomize the spirit of the maritime sector, and their bravery is an inspiration to us all. They were able to save lives because of their rapid thinking and actions during dangerous events which risked their own lives.
“It is a tremendous honor to present the Billy Deacon Award to them – it is truly well-deserved and a reflection of their dedication and commitment to the service.”
George Rawlinson MBE, Award Committee chair, said: “Great courage, skill and determination are needed during these events, and the efforts of those called to help exemplify how fortunate we are to have such a brilliant Search and Rescue Service throughout the U.K. and Ireland.
“Despite great personal risk and receiving an absolute battering from the elements, Abi Wild’s relentless perseverance ensured a successful outcome was achieved in 2021. This is a testament to her bravery and professionalism. Abi is greatly deserving of this award however, we must also recognize the pilots and rear crew of the helicopter, who were integral to her success.