Tuesday 5 March 2024

For Those In Peril

 This should have been published yesterday - because on 4th March, 1824, two centuries ago, the RNLI was founded, in The City Of London Tavern in Bishopsgate, by Sir William Hillary. He was a wealthy military man, who lived at Douglas on the Isle of Man. He had seen many ships wrecked in the treacherous waters round Britain, and had a passion to do something about it.
Hillary petitioned the Admiralty, and got nowhere - so instead gathered various notable people [including the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the abolitionist William Wilberforce] to a meeting down the pub and explained his campaign.
They founded the National Institution for the Preservation of Lives from Shipwreck. The Prime Minister [the Earl of Liverpool] agreed to be president, and King George IV gave royal patronage. Thirty years later, 1854, the name was changed to The Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The full history is here
In 1884, the familiar logo was designed by Laura Preston, after her brother was rescued by the Ramsgate volunteers. To date, in excess of 146,000 lives have been saved by the RNLI. 

On average that's more  than two souls EVERY DAY
This charity is independent of government, and 96% of its funding comes from donations. I am grateful for their independence - it means nobody can stop them rescuing all people in distress - even if they are desperate refugees in tiny boats.
This is the Mary Somerville - the Walmer Lifeboat, 130 years ago  . Walmer is a small town on the East Kent coast, joined to Deal and close to Dover. Walmer Castle is the residence of the LOrd Warden of the Cinque Ports and the town has a fine maritime history. The Deal and Walmer Lifeboat Station was established very early on, in 1830. Over the centuries, there have been many ships which have foundered on the treacherous Goodwin Sands, just offshore - and these brave crews have saved many lives there.
I mention this one because it has a family connection. Bob's Paternal Grandmother a Mercer, and the men of her family were long associated with the boats.
"Old" Joe Mercer was a regular crew member, and "Young" Joe, and "Young" Dick served as 1st and 2nd coxswains. I wish I knew more about them - i'm proud to have married into such a family.
Norfolk has a number of lifeboat stations, and famous crewmen - like Henry Blogg of Cromer - the most decorated lifeboatman in history.
When we lived in Dorset, we were very close to the current RNLI HQ and training centre in Poole.
Do check out the RNLI website - but more importantly, support them - do send them a donation, or leave some money in your will, or buy something from their shop. If you are on holiday, by the sea, take the grandchildren to see the lifeboat station.
These men and women have been doing a wonderful job for 200 years, and I thank God for them. 

Their motto - to save lives at sea
Their vision - to save everyone
Their values- to be trustworthy, courageous, selfless and dependable


  1. They are super important! Loved reading about how it all started! Kx

  2. We live by the sea and two of our friends are volunteer crew at the local lifeboat station 4 miles away. Since I was 16 many years ago I have been involved with RNLI, I can remember collecting door to door with a boat shaped collecting box a long time ago it doesn't happen now. I was also for many years the minutes secretary of the local branch as I can write shorthand, gosh it seems a life time ago, what am I saying it is a life time ago. Thank you for your post highlighting such a worthy cause for us here on a small island. Our local television news did a good feature on the RNLI yesterday. Regards Sue H

  3. πŸ›₯️πŸ‘ Being close to the sea, you must be very aware of their work

  4. I grew up right on the coast, literally less than 300 yards from the water, 500 yards from the Lifeboat House, and three of our Lifeboat Crew lived in our road, Father, his Son and the Father's Brother.
    This was in the days when very few people had phones, and Maroon's were set off to alert the crew.
    If they were needed at night, the first Maroon would wake me, then almost immediately after the second Maroon went off, I'd hear the three men running down the hill past our house. They all wore hob-nailed boots, so there was no mistaking the sound of them running like the 'clappers'!
    Even as a child, I used to worry about how they'd get on, would they be in time to help? Would they all come back safe?
    Your post has brought back some very strong memories, including looking up into a summer sky and seeing the second Maroon explode just before hearing it. I'd forgotten about that until today! X

    1. Oh what fabulous memories to have, Col. And seeing the flash before hearing the bang too! (A brilliant physics lesson about the relative speeds of light and sound!!)

  5. The RNLI do a fabulous job and considering they are volunteers putting their lives at risk everytime they are on a call. We are on granddaughter school run duty today so looking forward to later. Take care. Xx

    1. They should never be taken for granted. Have fun with GD

  6. It's a charity that we always support, only to be expected when I am married to an ex-Royal Navy submariner I guess. They do a brilliant job, I wish it didn't have to be on a voluntary basis though, after all they are classed as one of the emergency services in all coastal towns.

    1. I'd forgotten your RN connection. And yes they are brilliant.

  7. Excellent history of the RNLI and one of the charities we support. Catriona

  8. It is amazing what a small like minded group of people can accomplish, especially with good funding and some influential people to assit the effort! May it ever be so.

    Ta for such an interesting glimpse at history!


  9. Their vison: To save everyone. (Including everyone in the Channel whatever the circumsatances).

  10. Thanks for sharing the history. It's a labour of love for those rescuers, because the conditions requiring their help are the same as those that caused the need in the first place!


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