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Community / RNLI celebrates ‘truly remarkable’ 200th anniversary

Past and present crew members and supporters gathered at the small boat harbour on Sunday to mark the 200th anniversary. Photo: Shetland Flyer/RNLI Lerwick

SHETLAND’s two lifeboat stations are marking the 200th anniversary of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Lifeboats have been permanently stationed in Lerwick since July 1930 and in Aith since May 1933.

Since the stations were established, the Lerwick lifeboat has launched 922 times and saved 445 lives, while the Aith boat has launched 398 times and saved 152 lives.

Volunteers from both Shetland stations are attending a special thanksgiving service at Westminster Abbey in London this morning (Monday).

A photo that exemplifies the commitment and dedication of the volunteer lifeboat crews: Lerwick lifeboat heading into a howling gale to assist a Danish trawler with engine problems in October last year. Photo: Ryan Leith/RNLI Lerwick

John Hay (deputy launch authority) and James Garrick (treasurer) are attending from Aith, and Malcolm Craigie (lifeboat operations manager) and Tommy Goudie (deputy coxswain) are representing Lerwick.

Also attending is Cathy Goudie, who is the support coordinator for the RNLI Families Programme in the north of Scotland.

Past and present crew members and supporters, including Lerwick Ladies Lifeboat Guild, also marked the RNLI’s 200th anniversary by gathering by at the town’s small boats harbour on Sunday.

The RNLI is a charity, and the majority of its crew members are volunteers.

Both Shetland stations currently have 17-metre Severn-class all-weather lifeboats, the largest and most powerful in the RNLI’s fleet, with a top speed of 25 knots and capable of long searches in the very worst of sea conditions.

Today the RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations around the UK and Ireland, and has seasonal lifeguards on over 240 lifeguarded beaches around the UK.

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Lerwick lifeboat coxswain Stephen Manson.

Lerwick lifeboat coxswain Stephen Manson said: “The RNLI has been saving lives for 200 years, and we’re the latest generation carrying on the lifesaving work which has been carried out by the generations before us.

“As an island community, there are many folk in Shetland who have a connection to the sea, and many individuals and families who have had a connection to our two RNLI lifeboat stations.

“Our volunteer crews and all those involved with the stations are very pleased to be part of the wider RNLI 200th celebrations and we grateful to everyone who continues to support us with fundraising and donations so we can save lives at sea.”

RNLI chief executive Mark Dowie said: “For a charity to have survived 200 years based on the time and commitment of volunteers, and the sheer generosity of the public donating to fund it, is truly remarkable.

“It is through the courage and dedication of its incredible people that the RNLI has survived the tests of time, including tragic losses, funding challenges, two World Wars and, more recently, a global pandemic.”

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