Dun Laoghaire RNLI names new lifeboat Joval in memory of devoted English couple who retired to Offaly
Dun Laoghaire RNLI’s new D-class lifeboat was named Joval in a ceremony held on Sunday (12 June) at the bandstand on the East Pier. The unusual name comes from a request by the late donor, Mrs. Valerie Staunton, that an inshore lifeboat be funded by her legacy and that the vessel be named after both her and her late husband, John. The couple, both from London, fell in love with Ireland when visiting the country in the 60’s and settled here in their later years.
RNLI Visiting the new lifeboat ‘Joval’ at the inshore boathouse before the ceremony, Trustee and Irish Council Member Paddy McLaughlin with friends and neighbours of the late Mr and Mrs Staunton; Amber Craughwell, Manus Hingerty, Maria McGarry Curley and Jacqueline Duffy
For the ceremony, the station turned the iconic bandstand on the East Pier into a stage with music provided by both Kilmacud Crokes Choir and musicians from Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann.
The donor, the late Mrs. Valerie Staunton, was well represented by friends and former neighbours who were delighted to see the lifeboat that bore John and Valerie’s name and to meet the lifeboat crew who would be carrying out rescues in the new craft. Amber Craughwell, daughter of Mrs. Staunton’s Executor attended with her husband Manus Hingerty and neighbours and friends of the couple from Offaly, Maria McGarry Curley and Jacqueline Duffy, named the lifeboat.
Master of Ceremonies was Dun Laoghaire RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager Ed Totterdell.
The lifeboat was accepted into the care of the Institution by RNLI Trustee and Irish Council member Paddy McLaughlin, who himself is a lifeboat Coxswain from Red Bay in county Antrim. In accepting the vessel Paddy said, "I know how special these events are to a station. This isn’t just an occasion but rather an acknowledgement of an incredible lifesaving gift that a donor has given us, a gift that will go on many journeys with the lifeboat crew and one which will save many people over its lifetime."
"The power and the responsibility of the D-class can’t be denied. It was designed and built for a very clear purpose, it’s speed and efficiency making it so effective in saving lives. A highly manoeuvrable, inflatable lifeboat, it generally operates close to shore, coming into its own for searches and rescues close to cliffs and shores, something very familiar to this lifeboat crew."
The honour of accepting the lifeboat into the care of Dun Laoghaire RNLI fell to the station’s newest lifeboat Helm, Ms. Laura Jackson. Speaking on behalf of the crew she added, "It is a very proud and memorable day for us all. Unfortunately, we do have to say goodbye to our last D class lifeboat Realt na Mara. It served the station faithfully for twelve years but we are very excited to start a new chapter on Joval."
Laura continued, "The D-class lifeboat is the smallest in the fleet, but it saves the most lives. Here is Dun Laoghaire it is put to the test. The lifeboat could be called multiple times a day to a range of different scenarios. From people being cut off by the tide at Sandymount Strand to a swimmer that urgently needs to be rescued. The versatile and adaptable lifeboat is well suited to Dublin Bay and its surrounding shoreline. The lifeboat has been part of the harbour’s history since the 1800s and it remains so to this day."
A Service of Dedication was then held with Rev Gary O’Dowd, Deacon Kellan Scott, and Father Paul Tyrell.
Before the naming of the lifeboat, Maria McGarry Curley and Jacqueline Duffy, friends and former neighbours of Valerie and John Staunton, who had both made the journey from Offaly, shared some details of the couple’s life with the crowd. They came from London and fell in love with Ireland on their first trip here, cruising on the Shannon in the late 1960s. They made many trips to the country and toured the island before they bought their own boat for fishing in the 1980s which they moored in Lusmagh, County Offaly. It was here they retired to in 1993 and their motivation to fund a lifeboat came from their love of the water. The couple also had a great awareness of the dangers of the water and the need for lifesaving equipment. The lifeboat they have funded is the manifestation of that wish, and the couple would be very proud to see to see where their legacy has gone.
The new lifeboat was helmed for the occasion by Nathan Burke, with crew members Chris Watson and Hazel Roe. The champagne for the naming had been carefully stored aboard the lifeboat at the time of its launch and with the signal given, the lifeboat was officially named Joval, and the champagne was poured over the bow by the Helm.
The final Vote of Thanks was given by Deputy Launching Authority Robert Fowler and refreshments were provided at the National Yacht Club. Guests who attended the ceremony included An Cathaoirleach of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, Councillor Lettie McCarthy, and members of Dun Laoghaire Coast Guard. The station would like to extend their thanks to everyone who attended and made the day one to remember.