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A maritime operations officer who has served His Majesty's Coastguard for more than 17 years is one of a handful to receive national recognition this week.

Senior maritime operations officer Irene Macritchie has been named as the recipient of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's chief executive award, bestowed on only one officer in the UK each year. Irene has been described by her team leader, Scott Mackenzie, as a long-tenured and respected member of the MRCC Stornoway operations room, where she is a senior officer ensuring maritime safety around a huge area of sea and coast.

Her nomination for the chief executive's award came after she spent a great deal of time and effort planning HM Coastguard's 200th anniversary celebration in Stornoway, including the emergency services open day at the coastguard station at Goat Island.

That included going to lengths to track down past members of staff and to involve local dignitaries, to arrange food and drink and to contact members of other emergency services.

Team leader Scott Mackenzie said: "The success of the CG200 event at Stornoway and its publicity was largely due to Irene and her hard work and dedication. 

"She liaised with the coastal team, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Stornoway Airport fire service, Police Scotland and Scottish Ambulance Service, along the Salvation Army and other organisations.  

"On the day itself, Irene went above and beyond, even running boxes of face-masks to the emergency towing vessel Ievoli Black, so that the public could visit the vessel.

"The day was a massive success and was a great opportunity to show the local community what it is that we do. I put a large part of its success down to Irene."

Irene herself is extremely modest about the award. She told "It's nice to get something, but this is just what we do and I think other officers are just as deserving of recognition.

"I work closely with the coastguard rescue teams, attending some of their training events so that I can get names and faces to go with the voices when we are co-ordinating incidents.

"I attend training because I want to understand how it works. When you're here and the guys call in, it's easy to underestimate the time that their work takes, or the conditions they are working in.

"I want to understand how they are working so that I can do my job better. Even just knowing how long it takes to put a suit on or get a rope rescue set up means I can see their perspective, know how everything works and what it is that they are doing on the ground."

Scott Mackenzie said: "Irene is a great asset to both MRCC Stornoway and the MCA as a whole and I feel that the selfless work that she does is worthy of merit."

The pictures show Irene in the coastguard operations centre at Goat Island, and the emergency services open day which she co-ordinated as part of the CG200 celebrations.