We’ve all seen the RNLI stations dotted around the UK’s shores, and as this bastion of an institution celebrates its 196th birthday, we thought we would emphasise why the Royal National Lifeboat Institute is deserving of our support. Being the only coastal national park in the UK, packed with water-loving tourists year-round, it was natural for us at St Davids Escapes to choose the RNLI as our charity.
It’s easy to take them for granted – we’re on holiday, we’ve been out in a boat before, we don’t need a life jacket, we’re strong swimmers. Anyone who’s been watching the popular BBC 2 series “Saving Lives at Sea” will know that no matter how capable we think we are in the water, Mother Nature has her own way of doing things.
This is why, since 1867, there has been an active lifeboat station at St Justinians, just 2 miles north of St Davids and next to the most tricky area of coast around Ramsey Sound. The lifeboat offers support for the rugged and wild coastline of north-West Pembrokeshire, extending into St George’s Channel.
Nowadays, the older lifeboat station stands as a reminder of the 100 years of service it gave, its red corrugated roof watching like a lifeguard over the waves. The newer Tamar class station and slipway sits just above the old station, and opened in 2016, allowing for safer conditions for crew and trainees.
The RNLI states that our national lifeboats rescue on average 23 people per day from our stormy seas. The RNLI also provide flood rescue services and beach lifeguards, as well as full training and equipment. But this equipment – indeed this service – comes with a price tag.
Sir William Hillary founded the RNLI in 1824, having first pleaded passionately with the British Admiralty for help in avoiding the loss of life due to shipwrecks. Undeterred by the lack of interest by the Admiralty, Sir William founded what is now the largest charity that saves lives at sea around the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
This means that the RNLI is funded solely by legacies and charitable donations. It records that in 2016, it received 177.3 million pounds of donations by the British public. What an incredible amount – it goes to show how valued and needed this institution really is. We’re betting Sir William would have been pretty pleased about that!
Here on the St Davids peninsula, our lifeboat crews have racked up an astonishing 14 medals for gallantry over the years. But we think that, medals or not, each member of our volunteer crew are heroes, and to pay tribute to their hard work, dedication and bravery, we name them our official charity.
Keep an eye out for more posts about the RNLI on our Blog page.