150 years of saving lives at sea: RNLI volunteers celebrate milestone

LIFEBOAT volunteers in Poole will celebrate a milestone 150-years of saving lives at sea with a range of special events throughout 2015. The town’s RNLI lifeboat station – which last year answered its 5,000th ‘shout’ – will be opened to the public on selected days. 

And lifeboat chiefs are urging members of the public to attend a special St James Church service later this January, where the Reverend Lucy Holt will be reflecting on the past and celebrating the present and future role of the station. 

Poole RNLI spokesman Anne-Marie Clark said: “No launch is ever the same. “The types of shouts have varied over the decades depending on the tides and the weather – from medical evacuations off the islands, boats or groynes where an ambulance cannot reach, to vessels on fire, pleasure-boats aground, overdue kayakers, injured kite-surfers, missing swimmers, fouled propellers, broken down trawlers, dismasted yachts and so on. 

“Poole Lifeboat Station has been operating through all these decades with the support of families, employers, community and the fundraisers who work tirelessly to raise awareness of the pennies. “We are a charity which is the envy of the world and free at point of service, and Poole Lifeboat Station has provided a lifesaving service for the past 150 years.” 

Back in 1865 the crew launched to sea in sail and oar-powered vessels, armed with local knowledge and seamanship of the highest regard. Modern technology may have moved on significantly but the same courage, determination and skills shown a century-and-a-half ago are displayed by the volunteer crew today, says Anne-Marie. 

She added: “As the special momentous occasion for Poole lifeboat approaches our volunteers have reflected on their time and how the lifeboats, kit and technology have all evolved. “The maroons are now silent but the pagers continue to ring out and the volunteers answer the call.” 

by Jim Durkin

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