Saturday, 26 July 2008


The RNLI in Buncrana are celebrating 20 years of active service in the peninsula. Mark Burnett from Buncrana is also celebrating as he has been with the RNLI in the town since the beginning. He is married to Pauline and has three daughters. By day he is a mild mannered lorry driver with the oil company A and N Fuels, the home delivery heating oil specialists. But by night he is on standby to face whatever perils there are on the Swilly. His involvement with the lifeboats gives Mark and his team tremendous satisfaction knowing that they are part of a charity that saves lives at sea.

What music do you like?
Country music. In particular, Garth Brooks, Randy Travis and the celebrated Broadway star, Colm Wilkinson. I really enjoy “Bring him Home” from his part in Les Miserables.

What would you never throw away?
Anything that I might need tomorrow.

What book are you reading?
I am not reading a book at the moment, I am distracted too much with one thing and another. I do read the quarterly magazine “The Lifeboat” when I get the chance. It is an RNLI publication and a fascinating read.

What was your favourite childhood game?
I used to spend a lot of time at the diving boards on the shorefront in Buncrana. Unfortunately, they have gone now.

Have you been to the cinema recently, what did you see and was it any good?
It has been a while but Perfect Storm was the last film I saw. It stars George Clooney and it is about a group of commercial fishermen who get caught up in an intense storm, which puts them in mortal danger.

What section of the newspaper do you turn to first?
The front page. Occasionally I will go to the sports pages, as I am a bandwagon supporter for Donegal.

What is your idea of a good night out?
A nice meal with Pauline (my wife) and friends.

Most embarrassing moment of your life?
I was watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire on the telly and didn’t know one of the answers. I decided to phone up my sister Patricia to see if she knew. As soon as the phone was picked up at the other end I asked her the question and she gave me the answer straight away. I thanked her and then was surprised when the voice asked me who I was. I had phoned the wrong number and had been talking to a complete stranger.

Have you a favourite TV programme?
Top Gear and Only Fools and Horses.

How do you relax?

I enjoy a walk by the sea, especially around Ned’s Point and the shore path.

What job did you want to do when you were a child?
When I was very young I wanted to be a priest…

Where would you like to go for your holidays?
Barbados would be good. The weather is fabulous and the people are friendly.

Your idea of heaven?
Being on the lifeboat on a beautiful day, floating on the Swilly.

Your idea of hell?
I am not tolerant of bad manners. I like to hear a please and thank-you.

What famous people would you invite around for dinner and why?
Billy Connolly for his wit and Nelson Mandela for his wisdom. He’s not doing badly for 90.

Favourite animal?
I like dogs, especially Alsatians, they make loyal pets.

What couldn’t you live without?
Friends and family.

Biggest fear?
A crew member going overboard when we are out on a shout.

Biggest thrill?
The birth of my three daughters.

The world’s most irritating invention?
Lilos and small inflatable boats that shouldn’t be on the water. It wasn’t long ago we picked up a man stranded on the Swilly when he drifted off and got caught in the tide.

What is your idea of a good night in?
A meal from the Chinese takeaway, a bottle of wine and the Late Late Show… Am I getting old?

Do you have a hobby?
I did play golf for a short while.

Which period in history would you most like to have lived through?
Now is a good time. We have a great country and great people living in it.

World’s most useful invention?
The lifejacket. They save more lives every year.

What do you have for breakfast?
Something light. Cornflakes and fruit is usually enough.

What is the best/worst piece of advice you have been given?
The worst: Turn right when it should have been left.

The best: Have faith.

Personal philosophy?

Failure is not in falling, but it’s the inability to pick yourself up and keep going.

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