A children’s book of fun and adventure based on the North Coast

Any of you who know the North Coast will know how important the RNLI is and how committed the volunteers are to “Saving Lives at Sea”

Since the pandemic the role of our Lifeboats have become ever more vital due to many of us staycationing and enjoying the many water sports on offer for all age groups.

Dr Martin O’Kane is the Lifeboat Medical Advisor at Portrush Lifeboat Station and has seen first-hand what the volunteers do and the training they do all year round to keep our beaches safe.

Martin has also seen the two Lifeboats (fondly known as “The Big Boat and the Wee Boat’) in action and this sparked an idea in Martins imagination for a children’s story based on the North Coast and about lifeboats.

Martin said: –

‘Dee and Sam have been the by-product of the recent pandemic. Once I had finished my sessions in the local Covid centre I would come home and as I looked over the beautiful East Strand an idea started to form in my head. From this idea Dee and Sam came to life.  I also wanted to celebrate the stunning scenery so beautifully captured by Alice which embodies the Antrim Coast. The local Lifeboat crew continued to selflessly answer calls during lockdown and I also felt it important to reiterate the ‘Float to Live’ message for children enjoying our beautiful beaches. It has been a pleasure to bring Dee and her friends to life so that children can share in her exciting adventure’

When Martin was ready with his final proof, he shared with friends who were so excited with the story that they encouraged him to speak to local artist Alice Rohdich to see if she would do the illustrations for ‘Dee The Little Lifeboat.’

Alice is well known on the North Coast and further afield for her beautiful ethereal drawings, so she was an obvious choice to do the illustrations. Alice was delighted to get involved and has captured the vision that Martin had in his head of what the story would look like.

Alice commented: –

Being asked to illustrate a book during Covid was just perfect timing! For the first time in over 40 years “lockdown” meant an enforced holiday and no work! In a tourist area, where we run ‘The Souvenir Shop’, our family business since 1887 the future looked grim! No tourists, no customers, potentially no income! Imagine, normally at this time of year we would be preparing for the “season” ahead, Raft Race, Northwest 200, Easter, Summer…and our doors were closed… And then Martin messaged… And of course, I said “yes” Yes to the opportunity to support a charity so close to my heart, one my husband had dedicated over 25 years of our married life to. I spent those early days of lockdown, walking, imagining, thinking, sketching, painting and the missed “season” just flew by, as Sam and Little Dee became my constant companions! Dee the Little Lifeboat is so much more than a very important message about Safety at Sea. It is a story of belief, of friendships, of dreams and all cast against the beautiful backdrop which we are so very blessed to call home, The stunning Causeway Coast! It was also a time for me, to step back from work, to take time to look at the beauty of where I live, to take time to see it from a new viewpoint, and all while fulfilling one of my own dreams….to illustrate. My eternal thanks and immense gratitude go to Martin for his complete belief and trust in me to match his beautiful words with pictures. To Judy, Jane and Olivia for their much appreciated encouragement and constant support at each stage of development … I am so thrilled to introduce my friends Dee the Little Lifeboat and Sam!

Since then, many afternoons have been spent in Martin’s dining room overlooking the beautiful East Strand working on the text and the drawings, talking to the RNLI about safety messages before eventually pulling it all together and handing the finished manuscript to the publishers.

All proceeds from ‘Dee” will go towards the RNLI, a charity that depends solely on donations and the Lifeboat Crew at Portrush are very excited that their lifeboats will feature in a book written by one of their volunteers.