Volunteers’ Week: Saving Lives at Sea with the RNLI

This Volunteers’ Week (3–9 June), the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is celebrating some of the volunteers who have helped the charity save more than 146,000 lives since its foundation in 1824.

Volunteers have always been the lifeblood of the RNLI, from lifesaving crew to fundraisers and those who volunteer in shops, museums or by sharing water safety messaging.

One family at Skegness RNLI has dedicated more than 100 years to the charity with three generations playing an active part in saving lives at sea. Trevor Holland (63), has followed in family footsteps with his late brother David, father Ken and grandfather Bert all volunteering for the RNLI.

Trevor said: ‘I would often see my father respond to calls as a young boy, and when I was old enough to volunteer, I felt it was my duty to get involved. I started as a shore helper launching the old Oakley class lifeboat and over the years have moved onto other roles including head launcher and launch authority. From the Oakley class lifeboat to the Mersey and now the Shannon, I’ve certainly seen some great advances in technology and kit during my time. I would encourage anyone considering volunteering for the RNLI to just get involved. There are many roles, not just seagoing, but shore-based too, fundraising and many others – I’ve never looked back.’

The RNLI not only save lives at sea with lifeboats and beach lifeguards, but also through the delivery of water safety advice such as Float to Live.

David Corstorphine, RNLI Water Safety Officer Credit: RNLI/Audrey Peddie

David Corstorphine (66) has been a volunteer Water Safety Officer since 2018 and last year delivered water safety lessons to more than 16,000 people – including thousands of children. In addition to water safety talks, David has been instrumental in working with local partners in Scotland to improve coastal safety. One such initiative is the installation of Coastal Safety Markers along part of the Fife Coastal Path. The markers help people to clearly identify their location to emergency services, significantly cutting down response times and ultimately saving lives.

David said: ‘Being able to volunteer for a charity and help save lives is a great feeling. It’s my hope that by delivering safety messaging to children, they will have more awareness of the dangers when visiting the coast which will ultimately save lives at sea. In addition to the school talks, it’s great to be able to interact with local partners to improve coastal safety – in particular, seeing phase one of the Coastal Markers come into fruition was a proud moment.’

Head of Volunteering at the RNLI Donna McReath said: ‘Volunteers have been the lifeblood of the RNLI throughout our 200 years of saving lives at sea and we thank them all. We couldn’t do what we do without the vital support of our incredible volunteers and the time and effort they generously dedicate in a wide variety of roles, from lifesaving crew to fundraisers and those who volunteer in our shops, museums or by sharing our water safety messaging – they are all lifesavers. There are a broad range of roles at the RNLI and we are always looking for new volunteers to join our charity to help us continue saving lives at sea.’

Find out more and get involved at RNLI.org/volunteer.

The RNLI is also supporting The Big Help Out – the UK’s biggest ever mass volunteering movement from 7-9 June. In 2023, 7.2M people took part in the Big Help Out lending a hand and making a difference in their local communities.

Use this link to Big Help Out App to find volunteering opportunities near you.

More news from All At Sea