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Lough Neagh Rescue pay tribute to co-founder Billy Mullen BEM who saved lives of ‘countless people’

In a tribute posted on Facebook today (Thursday), Lough Neagh Rescue said Billy saved the lives of "countless people"

Billy Mullen, Lough Neagh Rescue

Lough Neagh Rescue have paid tribute following the passing of their co-founder who served the organisation for over 25 years.

William Mullen, or Billy as he was more commonly known, died peacefully at hospital on New Year’s Day surrounded by his loving family.

A death notice has described Billy as the much loved and devoted husband of his wife Anne, cherished and devoted father of Finn, Timo and Tam.

With Billy having passed on his skills to his children, Finn and Tam continue to serve as lifeboat crew volunteers.

He was also the precious grandpa of Skye, Pixi, Mara and Oran and the much appreciated father-in-law of Katie and Sarah.

Now entering its 35th year, Billy helped form Lough Neagh Rescue on July 4 1989, following the tragic drowning of David Gray Jnr – a builder from Portadown.

At the time this tragedy raised questions around the lack of a lifeboat provision and it became a lifelong mission of David Gray Snr to ensure a lifeboat service was available to help prevent future tragedies.

Alongside friends and fellow rescuers, Billy Mullen, Finn Mullen and then Harbour Master Paddy Prunty, the group of men set about raising funds in aid of a lifeboat and on October 21, 1989 the first lifeboat, named ‘Bungy’, was obtained and a crew formed at Kinnego on the shores of Lough Neagh.

Related: First Responders: How a father’s grief led to the launch of life saving provision on Lough Neagh

In a tribute posted on Facebook today (Thursday), Lough Neagh Rescue said Billy saved the lives of “countless people”.

It read: “Billy served in Lough Neagh Rescue for over 25 years and during his time was a long serving Coxswain, saving the lives of countless people.

“From wiring the first lifeboat in the service and using his wide range of mechanical skills, to training and mentoring other crew, Billy was generous with his time and extensive knowledge to ensure the lifeboat was always fit for service, and the crew under his command would make it safely back to base.”

They further described Billy as a “leader on the water and on land”, who served the organisation as a training officer, board member and chairperson.

Billy’s service and dedication to saving lives did not go unnoticed, as Billy was recognised with a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list.

The statement continued: “Billy will always be remembered for his cheery smile, humour and calmness under pressure, but most of all his steadfast commitment to the lifeboat service on Lough Neagh, made possible by the support of his wife Anne, to whom we extend our deepest condolences at this difficult time, as well as his sons Finn, Timo and Tam and extended family.”

Billy’s funeral will take place at 12pm on January 6 (Saturday) in Edenderry Memorial Methodist Church in Portadown, followed by private interment in the nearby Kernan Cemetery.

The family home is strictly private. Family flowers only.

Donations if desired by cheque made payable to Lough Neagh Rescue, c/o Joseph Poots and Son Funeral Directors, 42-44 Bridge Street, Portadown, BT63 5AE.

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