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The Western Isles coastguard rescue service has been recognised for their bravery in their role by the chief constable of Police Scotland.

Certificates of meritorious conduct were awarded to representatives of HM Coastguard coastal operations team on Friday (23 February) at the Chief Constable’s Bravery and Meritorious Conduct awards at Police Scotland’s headquarters in Tulliallan, Fife.

In the citation for the Western Isles service a spokesperson for the chief constable said: “The Western Isles coastguard coastal operations team are predominantly volunteers who are keeping their own communities safe.

“The assistance, expertise and knowledge provided, often in very challenging circumstances, is invaluable.

“They are collaborative, working effectively with Police Scotland to achieve the best possible results.

“The brave, decisive and courageous actions of the Western Isles coastguard teams ensure that the community they serve are kept safe on a daily basis.”

Individual certificates for meritorious conduct to named individuals marked ‘incredible dedication and commitment to search and rescue within the Western Isles.’

Representing HM Coastguard’s Western Isles teams were area coastal commander Murdo Macaulay (AC18), David Smith, rescue coordination centre manager at MRCC Stornoway, Ron Maclean (S18B) and Kayleigh Smith (S18F).

Murdo described the ceremony on Friday afternoon as ‘a humbling day’ for those who attended.

He said: “We don’t do what we do for recognition or praise, but this award is testament to the team’s hard work and ongoing dedication to the service.

“It also shows the important relationship we have and must keep with other emergency services, always working together to achieve results.

“From providing search and rescue resources to assisting with safety cover or transport, we will always try our best to support our emergency services family. 

“This award is a massive boost for the Western Isles teams and they should be very proud of themselves.”

Friday’s ceremony also saw individual members of the public, police officers and other teams honoured, with some tremendous stories of courage told.

They included an Edinburgh teenager who helped at the scene of a serious road accident, police officers who rescued a woman from the sea in Saltcoats, Ayrshire and a sergeant and constable who saved a woman from a house fire in Lerwick, Shetland.

Murdo said: “It was a fantastic ceremony, not just because of our own award, but to be alongside such individual acts of bravery and other services who were awarded.

“It’s very nice to get recognition – that’s not what we do it for, but it’s great when we hear that we have done work our partners find to be of value.”

Police Scotland Chief Constable Jo Farrell said: "These awards shine a light on the great value policing brings to communities: keeping people safe from harm, protecting the vulnerable, bringing criminals to justice, solving problems and reducing offending.

"I want to thank and congratulate all the winners and nominees, including members of the public. Their inspiring work and brave actions illustrate how policing stands up for and with our communities."

Justice Secretary Angela Constance said:  "What might seem ordinary for them is, in reality, often extraordinary and I am grateful to each and every one of them.

"These awards rightly recognise the bravery and excellence shown by police officers and staff, by volunteers and members of the public across the country. I would like to congratulate all the nominees and award-winners – their stories are truly inspiring."

The picture shows (l to r) Divisional Coastguard Commander David Sharp, Kayleigh Smith and Murdo Macaulay, Police Scotland Chief Constable Jo Farrell, Ron Maclean and David Smith, and Assistant Chief Coastguard for Scotland and Northern Ireland Pat O’Callaghan. In the second picture the Stornoway team hold their commendations for meritorious conduct certificates.