Text from Les Bridgewater.
Many things change in 185 years but although there have been changes in society, plus the march of technology, the Lifeboat Services’ principles have remained the same.
Sir William Hillary, our founder, would not recognise today’s world, with 236 lifeboat stations still funded by voluntary contributions, raised by an army of fundraisers, and that the crews who man the lifeboats are still all volunteers whose sole purpose is to rescue those in peril on the sea.
Almost 200 years ago, lifeboat crews needed strength and fitness to row their open boats into the force of gales and violent storms, conditions that folk inland could not imagine. Their knowledge of the local waters, their experst seamanship and their handling of their boats was unsurpassable.
Muscle power has been replaced by up to 1500 horsepower diesel engines and the crews have warm, dry enclosed wheelhouses to protect them from the elements until they reach the incident. The dangers and hazards are still the same and the skill and endurance are just as needed as in those earlier years.
Radar, radio, satellite navigation and other modern aids have replaced the skill or the oarsman, but one thing has not changed and that is the seamanship, dedication, sheer guts and determination to uphold the lifeboat tradition of helping fellow human beings in peril.
Years ago flag days were the only means of getting public support but fundraising itself has also changed, with fish and chip suppers, sponsored swims, marathon runs, parachute jumps and many other different activities which raise the funds to keep the lifeboats afloat.
“Man can have no greater love than he lay down his life for his brother”
435 Lifeboat men have done just that since the R.N.L.I. was founded in 1824; the latest ones were the eight Lifeboat men on the Penlee Lifeboat, who perished on 18th December 1981.
This IS a charity worthy of everyone’s support.