BookPick: The Lifeboat, Courage on Our Coasts
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The Royal national Lifeboat Institution is a venerable charity which I hold in the highest regard. And in this day and age, when people often seem so self-centred, it’s still manned by volunteers who put their lives on the line for strangers.
Incredibly, the RNLI has saved more than 140,000 souls since its foundation in 1824.
The 20th century saw the RNLI continue to save lives at sea through two world wars. Lifeboats moved from sail and oar power to petrol and diesel, and the first women joined their crews.
Recent years have brought a significant expansion of the service, with the introduction of RNLI lifeguards and the first lifeboat station on an inland waterway, both in 2001.
Last year alone some 7960 people were rescued by lifeboat crews. There are over 230 RNLI stations around Britain and Ireland with lifeboats ready to put to sea at a moment’s notice.
Photographer and crewman Nigel Millard and author Huw Lewis-Jones have produced a stunning visual tribute to the men and women of the RNLI. The over 300 photographs in this book were taken over the course of five years. Commencing on the Isle of Man – the birthplace of the RNLI – the book takes the reader on a clockwise circumnavigation of the British and Irish coasts.As Prince William says in the Foreword to the book, ‘Each of the RNLI’s lifesavers, fundraisers, lifeboats stations and rescues has their own unique stories.’ This book honours them all.
The next blog will be my first Guest Blog and I’m delighted to announce that it’s by Commander Tyrone Martin, a former Captain of USS Constitution.
In 1972 My then wife and 13 month daughter took our Westerly Centar from Liverpool to Lymington the first leg of our voyage to the Med through the French Canals. About a third of the way to Lymington a retired RAF spitfire pilot from the Battle of Briton informed us of the RNLI service and how it functioned. He said that he would inform them when we left the River Dovey and that all we had to do was call them when we arrived at our next stop, and then we should call them when we left. We did this all the rest of the trip and were always told that they had watched us all day long. It was very reassuring as we were from San Francisco, Cal. USA and we were sailing in unfamiliar waters with minimal navigation aid on board
I have always openly stated that respective governments should grant the RNLI proper support funding. I oft have wondered just how many ex (and indeed current) government officials have been rescued over the last 100 years as they “messed about in boats”. I recall Harold Wilson getting into trouble on the Isles of Scilly during his time in office and seemingly all he did was to slap vat on all things nautical.