Firefighter’s team sails to success in the Solent

Whitehead firefighter Lenny Entwistle (pictured fifth from right, standing) with his victorious colleagues at UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge.  INLT 18-692-CON
Whitehead firefighter Lenny Entwistle (pictured fifth from right, standing) with his victorious colleagues at UK Firefighters Sailing Challenge. INLT 18-692-CON

A firefighter and sailing enthusiast from Whitehead is celebrating success at a sporting event for emergency services crews.

Lenny Entwistle was a member of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue service team competing against 25 others at the United Kingdom Firefighters Sailing Challenge.

The annual event in the Solent, which is open to other 999 services, helps to raise money for many charities.

Skipper Paul Prentice, a Watch Commander in Community Development in Bangor, pulled together a 10-strong team to compete against much more experienced crews and raised £1500 for the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice in the process.

Narrowly beaten into second place by the Metropolitan Police, the Northern Ireland crew sailed to silver success - believed to be the first time a trophy has been brought back to these shores and the top ranked Fire Service in the UK.

Lenny, who sails with County Antrim Yacht Club and is a Group Commander with the NIFRS based in Central Station, Belfast, said: “It was a real challenge for us as we had never sailed as a team before and some had limited or no experience of being in this type of boat. Paul was a fantastic skipper and brought out the best in everyone.

“At the end of the day, we worked hard together and it is fantastic to be able to come back home with some silver, be the top UK Fire Service team and to be able to support the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice.”

Paul added: “This has very much been a team effort. We had six sailors, three windsurfers and one dinghy sailor so it was certainly a challenge. We worked hard, we got ourselves shipshape and are delighted to be bringing home the silver. We’re going for gold next year.”