The winter of 2013/14 saw some of the worst storms in living memory relentlessly hit the UK, one after another. This resulted in massive flooding inland and around the coasts, damage to buildings and loss of life. Being an island, it’s not just those on land that suffer, sailors navigating our coasts had a torrid time too.
But for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), this was just business as usual. Year after year, since 1824, the brave volunteer, and largely unpaid, crews of the RNLI lifeboats put to sea in some of the most atrocious weather conditions risking their own lives at risk to save the lives of others.
In 2015, lifeboats launched from around the coasts of the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man 8,228 times. The crews spent 57,393 hours at sea on rescues rescuing 7,973 people, 348 of whom were in imminent danger of not surviving. Of those launches 3,241 where in darkness and 124 were in winds of force 7 or greater. Just under half of the launches were to pleasure craft.
The staff and crews of the RNLI work tirelessly throughout the year to keep people safe around our coasts, and now inland during times of flooding. However, the RNLI is not conventionally funded; every single penny is raised from donations and legacies from the public and businesses. This is amazing when you consider that it costs around £460,000 per day to provide this completely free service.