Honoured for services to Lough Neagh Rescue

Billy Mullen
Billy Mullen

Lough Neagh Rescue founder Billy Mullen has been honoured in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Mr Mullen, who was a founder member of the service, is to receive the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Lough Neagh Rescue.

Although born in Portadown, Billy has lived close to Kinnego Harbour near Lurgan most of his life.

He was a founder member of Lough Neagh Rescue which came into being in 1989.

He was coxswain from then until he retired a year ago and is now its patron.

Billy ran Mullen Marina (Kinnego) for over 40 years, and is a former chairman of LNR. The eldest and youngest of his three sons - Finn and Tam - are current coxswains. The middle one Timo also served LNR before he moved to England.

Billy, who is married to Anne, started Mullen Marina in a shed in Lurgan, before moving to Kinnego.

The service was founded in 1989 following the tragic drowning of Portadown builder David Gray Jnr and since has saved hundreds of lives.

David had been returning late on a daytrip with three friends when their vessel ran out of fuel and sank in the middle of the lough.

That night, three survivors were rescued by Kinnego harbour master Paddy Prunty and Kinnego boat yard owner Billy Mullen, following a call from the RUC in Lurgan, who had received a mobile phone call from the sinking vessel.

Following the death of his only son, the late David Gray Snr formed Lough Neagh Rescue along with Paddy Prunty and Billy Mullen - in order that other families might not suffer the same awful loss.

At 73, Billy now spends his time on the Lough paddle boarding and windsurfing.

He told the ‘MAIL’ that he considered the BEM an honour for everyone involved in Lough Neagh Rescue at Kinnego, Ardboe and Antrim.