Engineers from Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) have presented Portree RNLI with a cheque for £5,000 in recognition of the assistance given restoring power to customers in Raasay after Storms Gertrude and Henry battered the Highlands and Islands in close succession earlier this year.
The lifeboat crew twice came to the assistance of SHEPD’s local team, initially taking linesmen to the island on the evening of 29 January to get the lights back on while Gertrude unleashed winds gusting up to 94mph and then again on 1 February when lightning associated with Storm Henry inflicted fresh damage. The severe conditions meant that the Raasay ferry was unable to sail, leaving engineers facing an uncertain wait to bring help to island customers.
SHEPD Team Manager Neil Macdonald, who was one of the engineers transported to the island, said: “The assistance we received from the RNLI was given freely by highly skilled volunteers who are used to saving lives at sea in atrocious conditions. The value of their work for our communities - and on this occasion for our customers who were without power - goes well beyond money. We hope our donation is a small recognition of the unique service they made available to us and the difference it made.
"Our team is expert in working safely on land during winter storms, but conditions at sea are something else. We experienced a rough ride, but we knew we were in the safest possible hands and were able to get to Inverarish quickly and get the lights back on for our customers.
“The local RNLI team relies on the generous support of the communities that we are proud to serve. From our short and limited insight to the kind of conditions they can face and the commitment of the crew, they deserve every penny and more.”
Hamish Corrigall, RNLI Portree Coxswain, said, “The winter storms came in quick succession causing a great deal of inconvenience for islanders on Raasay.
“Our RNLI volunteers based at Portree were keen to help out and take engineers over to the island to restore power. The RNLI saves lives at sea but we also rally round to help communities in any way we can, and ferrying engineers over to Raasay is an example of that.”