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Queen’s Birthday Honours: Stornoway man honoured after more than 50 years serving the RNLI

John J Maclennan has been serving the RNLI for more than 50 years.
John J Maclennan has been serving the RNLI for more than 50 years.

A Lewis man who has dedicated 50 years to saving lives at sea has been recognised by the Queen.

John J Maclennan has been made an MBE in recognition of more than 50 years of service to the RNLI.

He joined the charity in 1971 as crew, sailing for 25 years before moving on to deputy launching authority and later to chairman of the lifeboat management group – a post he still holds.

During his time in the crew, the team saved 122 lives – a number Mr Maclennan credits to a team effort and the leadership of Coxswain Malcolm MacDonald he served under.

He now fundraises for the RNLI and raised nearly £20,000 over lockdown with a sponsored cycle.

‘Genuinely moved’

The 72-year-old said he was “genuinely moved” to have been recognised on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list and looked back at rescues that stand out from his time with RNLI.

In September 1979, he was one of a crew onboard Stornoway lifeboat, Hugh William Viscount Gough, who saved an elderly man from an overdue boat in the Loch Shell area.

The man had been onboard for 12 hours and conditions were rough, but he was returned to safety.

John J Maclennan has served the RNLI for more than 50 years.

A hurricane hit the Isle of Lewis in February 1989, sending a fishing boat into difficulty off Stornoway.

Crews headed out on the Sir Max Aitken 11 and rescued two men, but the boat was never seen afloat again.

‘Woven into the very fabric of our island’

Speaking about being made an MBE, Mr Maclennan said: “I am both genuinely moved and surprised that people consider me worthy of a nomination for this honour.

“In accepting the award, I do very much on behalf of all of the Stornoway Lifeboat Station team, past and present, in recognition of their professionalism, dedication and commitment to the RNLI.

‘The Stornoway Lifeboat Station is deeply woven into the very fabric of our island community, and I wish the coxswain, crew, guild members and supporters continued success.”

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